“Project Lead the Way” is a 4 year program that pushes incoming freshmen to commit to the future and make innovative decisions and encourages students to advance in technology and free-thinking. About 75% of all projects are cooperative, and the majority is computer based leaving the design challenges to be 3 dimensional (such as working on a fling machine where students are given random materials such as a deflated balloon, rubber bands, paper, and a straw so as to fling an object the furthest when an arm is let go).
Stand-by computers allow students to render out and cerate 3D designs on projects like CAD and CAM. There is a 3-week safety course that focuses on technology and how to teach them problem-solving skills.
This program takes their design with tool paths in Mastercam and to machine the part on a router and mill. Students have created door lock knobs, gearshift knobs, and racing petals with the machines provided. The finished products from the students often look professional and give a “fresh off the shelf” feeling such as one student who made a 34” long-board that was shaped and accented to look like a fish skeleton. Such projects have been designed in AutoCAD and brought into Mastercam where it can be looked at with combined 2D and 3D operations.
The first year of the program for freshmen is “Introduction to Engineering” where they are introduced to what engineering is and what fields are available in careers. It also is a way for them to learn the basic math, physics, and chemistry of manufacturing as well as instant design challenges coupled with research and principles of engineering.
The sophomores of the program get to enroll in a program called the “Principles of Engineering” in where they learn more about physically building contraptions for a purpose (ex. Marble solder, stoplights and trigger). This class will also teach them an introduction to robotics and electronics.
Juniors get to enroll into “Computer Integrated Manufacturing” where they take their newfound skills and learn how to design and manufacture products using CNC, Lathes, Routers, and 3D printers as well as Laser Engravers.
The seniors then get to enter “Engineering Design and Development.” The senior project given is of a real-world problem to solve and create a working physical model of the product that is then judged by a panel of engineers from an industry.
Already over 200 patents have come from the “Project Lead the Way” program.
Next year, corona High will be among several schools in CA to receive an i3 (Investing in Innovation Fund) grant to provide more companies and machinery needed to create an expanded engineering program. Students in the class(es) can explore a career in manufacturing quickly even in Norco Community College. On that note, Mr. Lee’s Design Manufacturing Technology Course can give up to 3 college credits.