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ASEE-SE Annual Conference 2022

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The State of High School Engineering Education; A North and South Perspective

The state of high school engineering education; a North and South perspective

High school students across the country have many options to receive pre-engineering education before starting college. Among the options are nationwide programs like Project Lead the Way, teachers using their own personal engineering curriculum, engineering and robotics competitions, and a student’s personal experience. Many students also come to the first year of an engineering program with no previous exposure to engineering.

The author recently moved to North Carolina from Michigan to work as Assistant Professor of Practice at Western Carolina University in the Engineering Technology program. This paper will provide a perspective of high school engineering education in mid-Michigan and western North Carolina, to discuss the amount and types of training that students have available and the depth of the concepts introduced in the training. During the 2020-21 school year the author taught Project Lead the Way content at three levels in a Michigan high school, the content of these courses will be discussed and the author’s perspective of what worked and didn’t work with high school students will be anecdotally explored. The pandemic and its effects on student attitudes, instructor attitudes, delivery methods, and ultimately the effectiveness of learning and teaching will also be discussed.

The scope of this paper is high school programs in Michigan and North Carolina, but some attention will be paid to grade school and middle school preparation and other states, especially the states in the Southeast section of the ASEE. No conclusions will be made regarding the effectiveness of these programs on preparing the students for collegiate or professional engineering success, but current research on these topics will be referenced in the paper.

Tom Spendlove
Western Carolina University
United States


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