Engineers of tomorrow on display at Sumter career center

Honors program is 1st of its kind in S.C.

BY BRUCE MILLS
bruce@theitem.com
Posted 1/26/18

It used to be that engineers of the future learned about such things as AutoCAD, electrical logic, resisters and reading datasheets in their first two years of college. Today, given continual advancements in technology, students are learning it …

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Engineers of tomorrow on display at Sumter career center

Honors program is 1st of its kind in S.C.

Faith Howard, an 11th-grader from Lakewood High School, displays a train she designed with computer-aided design and drafting software on Thursday at Sumter Career and Technology Center.
Faith Howard, an 11th-grader from Lakewood High School, displays a train she designed with computer-aided design and drafting software on Thursday at Sumter Career and Technology Center.
BRUCE MILLS / THE SUMTER ITEM
Posted

It used to be that engineers of the future learned about such things as AutoCAD, electrical logic, resisters and reading datasheets in their first two years of college. Today, given continual advancements in technology, students are learning it earlier and earlier.

Training in those engineering-based concepts was on display Thursday in a classroom at Sumter Career and Technology Center. The class - called Integrated Production Technologies - consists of 14 juniors from Sumter School District's three high schools and is part of a two-year, honors-based, advanced manufacturing and robotics program at the center, at 2612 McCrays Mill Road.

According to teacher Wendy Jacobs, the program is for the future engineering student pursuing a four-year university degree. The honors-based program is in its first year in the district and is also the first of its kind in the entire state.

Jacobs emphasized the two-year program for high school juniors and seniors generally consists of "independent learning," where students mostly pick up on concepts on their own - "like true engineers," she said.

Sumter High School junior Blake Parnell has already learned about Ohm's Law and how to create an electrical current to then make a motor run.

Parnell, 16, loves to build things, he said, and wants to get a job with Continental Tire the Americas after high school graduation next year. He knows he desires to go into the engineering field and said he would love to work for the tire company and potentially have them pay for his college education. He's made mostly A's and B's in high school to date, he said.

Classmate Faith Howard is an 11th-grader at Lakewood High School. She's the only female student in the program and said she's fascinated with how things work, which she said she picked up from her dad. She's currently taking pre-Calculus at Lakewood.

On Thursday, Howard showcased a train she has designed as a project with CAD, which is computer-aided design.

"You have to get very exact with the measurements, or certain parts will show a breakage, and it won't function," Howard said.

Howard wants to be an electrical engineer, she said, and made it clear that more females should go into the program and pursue engineering as a career.

"Because I'm the only female in this course," Howard said. "And, for females to go into engineering, sometimes you can make extra money."

Another Lakewood 11th-grader, Charlie Livingston, displayed on a laptop a protector he designed in CAD. He's also designed a train.

Livingston, 17, said he either wants to be a mechanical engineer or a software developer in his career. He's been working on computers his whole life.

"The computer is basically an electrical textbook," Livingston said.

"These kids are smart kids and focused," Jacobs said. "This program is to get them to be engineers. The goal is to get these kids to be independent learners who want to be life-long learners and want to investigate."