100 percent of CF engineering students receive college credit

Out of 141 students at Cedar Falls High School that are enrolled in engineering classes — introduction to engineering and design, principles of engineering and computer integrated manufacturing — 100 percent of them are receiving college credit.

These classes are part of the Project Lead the Way Pathways to Engineering program, a comprehensive curriculum with national standards. The coursework puts attention on critical thinking, problem solving and creativity.

The classes help students learn a variety of skills and gives them real world and technology experience that set them up for pathways that can lead them to getting jobs right out of high school, move on to a two-year engineering college or even onto a four-year college.

“It’s only year five (since this program began at Cedar Falls High School). We’ve been successful with students getting college credit. As a group we wanted to publish the results,” Project Lead the Way and Math instructor Dirk Homewood said.

When Homewood started teaching the classes he said, “(It) was different than a traditional class. It’s more freedom for the students. It’s more student-centered so the students are more interested. I give them basic skills and they go off.”

Emily Banes, a junior taking principles of engineering, agreed by saying the class is “fun; it explains a lot about how and why things work the way they do. I love how it’s hands on, rather than on the computer. We’re able to physically build it and (the class) is self-driven.”

These engineering students will receive the community college credit through Hawkeye Community College, but over 80 percent of them also scored high enough to receive college credit at university level.

The Hawkeye credit will assist them in advancing to higher and faster paced classes through Hawkeye’s industrial and engineering technology programs.

As far as the university level credit, it will be directly transferred to the universities of their choices as an engineering credit.

The engineering credits will be a nice bonus for many students like Banes who is fairly sure she wants to go into an engineering-type field. “I’ve been in (engineering classes) since freshman year. I really like them. I want to go into engineering or architecture.”

Around 90 percent of the students are eligible for student internships at John Deere through the John Deere Early Talent Program. The program isn’t easy to get into and is for seniors only.

“It’s application based and competitive,” Homewood said. The program allows students in the Cedar Valley, “including Hudson, Denver and Dike (to) apply. There’s an intense interview. It’s like getting a job; it goes to the best candidate.”

Along with their college credit, the engineering students will be able to earn more transferable college credit through other courses such as physics, calculus, statistics and many more, with Advanced Placements courses as another option.

Banes knows this first hand as she said, “It’s a lot of physics, which makes it a little difficult, but (it’ll make physics next year) a lot easier now that I know this beforehand.”

Joining and participating in the U.S. First Robotics Team, a national-award winning team, is yet another opportunity for these engineering students.

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