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OCS launches engineering academy for next year

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By Alix Mattingly

Giving students the tools they need today to solve the issues of tomorrow is a big goal of Oldham County Schools, according to the school district’s 21st Century Learning Outcomes.

As part of this promise to students and teachers the district has created OCS Engineering Academy, the district announced last week.

“It’s hands-on, minds-on teaching,” Chief Academic Officer Anita Davis said. “They are going to be building, designing and using auto cad. This isn’t a theory class, it’s a hands-on (one).”

The academy will be open to 48 ninth and tenth graders as a half-day engineering school at the Arvin Center in Buckner, with students participating in regularly scheduled classes for the remainder of the day, a news release on the new academy said. Curriculum for the academy will come from Project Lead the Way, the country’s leading provider of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs.

“Project Lead the Way is nationally known with rigorous curriculum, great teacher training and proven results,” Davis said. “It’s the best curriculum course for STEM.”

Mark Harrell, director of student engagement for Kentucky and Tennessee for Project Lead the Way said that the district would be choosing from eight courses the company offers. Harrell said he encouraged the district to select courses that will prepare students to enter the local job market.

“The goal is to get students ready for the industry in their local communities,” Harrell said.

The company description of their engineering courses states “Students engage in open-ended problem solving, learn and apply the engineering design process, and use the same industry-leading technology and software as the world’s top companies – all while studying topics such as aerodynamics and astronautics, biological engineering and sustainability, and digital electronics and circuit design,” Harrell said in an email.

Terry Dillion is a father of two children in OCS and is excited to enroll his rising freshman, Sean, in the academy.

“Our interest is following from Sean’s interest, he wants to be a car designer,” Dillion said. “This is perfect timing to facilitate exploring that interest for him. From a parent’s perspective we are excited that the board has extended this opportunity.”

The academy was created in alliance with the district’s Next Generation High School workgroup.

“This workgroup encompasses everything that is great about Oldham County,” Superintendent Will Wells said in a release. “It includes representatives from local businesses, government, colleges and universities, and others who are interested in the future of our students.”

Current eighth and ninth-graders who are interested in the program can contact their high school guidance counselor or email engineering@oldham.kyschools.us.

“We’re tapping into something that already exists, in terms of kids that already have an interest in math, science and engineering, we just need to provide opportunity for our students,” Davis said.

Email us about this story at amattingly@oldhamera.com.