Rebooting Engineering Fundamentals

This fall, science teacher and chemical engineer Martha Keeley launched a reboot of the senior elective course, Engineering Fundamentals, in which the principles of math, physics and science are applied to design solutions to human and societal problems. In addition to developing basic technical knowledge, students are hearing from a number of professionals throughout the year. Here are some of the early Zoom sessions:

Tyler Bernstein ’16 joined the class to talk about the company he co-founded, Zeno Power Systems, which is designing safe and productive uses for nuclear waste. He described his early design process; how his design was driven by wanting to solve a problem; and how he got feedback from stakeholders early in the process. 

JBS parent Katie Plax ’85 talked about her career as a pediatrician and youth advocate, and how she approaches it with a problem-solving mindset. Students are applying her lecture to their own experiences during the early phases of a design project, including how to integrate outside feedback to improve their projects.  

Melissa Peterein, a young civil engineer with Black & Veatch and volunteer with the Gateway chapter of Engineers Without Borders, spoke about both her work as a civil engineer improving water-related infrastructure in the Midwest and her experiences with EWB helping to design systems to improve water access and sanitation in Central and South America.

And starting yesterday, the class meets every week for eleven weeks with a STEM Squads Abroad engineering team in Panama to design a system to provide clean water to a rural school. Though this organization often works on-site overseas with high school students, this year they’re offering a remote design experience—a great fit for this year's Engineering Fundamentals class.