MUSCLE SHOALS — Muscle Shoals city schools will take the first step toward forming an engineering academy at Muscle Shoals High School during the 2013-14 school year.
The Muscle Shoals school board approved offering introduction to engineering in the upcoming school year, the first of at least three courses that are part of the Project Lead the Way engineering academy.
Project Lead the Way is a national nonprofit that provides science, technology, engineering and math curricula to middle and high schools. Muscle Shoals will participate in the organization’s Pathway to Engineering program, which offers eight courses from which to choose.
Judy Pugh, assistant superintendent of Muscle Shoals schools, said the district plans to add one course each year for the next three school years.
Muscle Shoals will send two teachers to Project Lead the Way-sponsored training in Auburn this summer, Pugh said.
“This is a new program, and anytime you birth, you will have labor pains,” Pugh said. “We are hoping that each year, as we add courses, we will have increased interest.”
Muscle Shoals High School counselor Sonya Allman said approximately 20 students have enrolled in the introductory course.
The engineering academy will build on a partnership in place with the University of Alabama at Huntsville’s INSPIRES program in which teams of high school students design scientific payloads that theoretically would be placed on a space craft.
UAH professors work with four teams of Muscle Shoals chemistry students one day a week on the project that will be judged against other high school teams from across the state.
Pugh said having the program in place this year has helped to build interest in engineering at the high school.
The engineering academy will be part of the district career tech program. Gary Dan Williams, principal at the district’s center for technology, said expanding the career tech offerings gives opportunities for career training to students with interests outside the traditional career tech programs.
“This is just as career tech as other things we do,” Williams said. “We are trying to prepare students in a number of diverse career pathways.”
Jennifer Edwards can be reached at 256-740-5754 or jennifer.edwards@Times Daily.com.
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