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The Eagle’s Landing Middle School pre-engineering academy, the District’s first middle school engineering program, has been laying a foundation for students to pursue a career in engineering for nearly 20 years.
In that time, much has changed in the industry, including the number of girls interested in pursuing careers in the engineering field. Currently, the program has received interest from so many girls, that it offers a girls-only class of 30 eighth graders building bridges, learning AutoCAD, and designing cellphone cases on a 3D printer.
“We found that the boys were stepping in and telling the girls how they should design something,” said Jamie Plumadore, the academy’s instructor. “Now the girls stand on their own. They are rock stars.”
“Boys automatically assume they are better than girls.” said Kyla Dean, an eighth grader, and aspiring architect. “Now the environment isn’t as competitive. Having a room full of girls is like having a room full of perfectionists.”
Not only do the career opportunities spark interest in the students, both boys, and girls, but a complete transformation to the engineering room has made the students more engaged and interested in learning more about the engineering field.
The room recently received a complete makeover with bright signage, high top tables, computer desks, workstations, and boxes of Lego robotics parts. The students also have the necessary instruments to turn their designs into reality, and even a bit of history on the walls, including a piece of the Space Shuttle and tools donated by NASA. Amazingly, in some cases, the tools weigh nearly as much as the students themselves.
“The open concept is more in line with what an engineering room should look like,” Plumadore said. “The students have full buy-in.”
The pre-engineering academy at the school located in western Boca Raton is part of the Gateway to Technology program that is activity-centered to excite and motivate the students. In doing so, the program also prepares them to continue with engineering programs offered at Olympic Heights and West Boca High School, if they wish to do so.