The needs of the school and its students are the most important issues, so what I offer here is more of a suggestion then any specific plan.  Admittedly, any plan that seemed beneficial to the students one year, would undoubtedly need to be reworked and improved the next year.  None-the-less, in the spirit of starting somewhere, and perhaps starting with too much and editing as necessary, I offer a three year plan as follows:



Sophomore Year:        Intro to Engineering

  • Drafting

  • Business Communications (memorandums / documentation)

  • Practical math (to follow and augment typical Sophomore math with hands-on applications.  See sponges below)

  • Rendering

  • Hand tools & safety

  • Beginning product design

The class would finish the year having built some product of the class's design.  This would leave each student with one or more things to take home and/or could be a part of a Junior Achievement co-operation.




Junior Year:  Intermediate Engineering

  • Advanced drafting (CAD)

  • Industrial processes

  • More business communications -ongoing (proposals & contracts)

  • More practical math (to follow and augment the typical Junior level curricula math -hands-on, sponges etc.)

  • More rendering

  • More hand tool and tool safety

  • Product engineering / costing

The year would be finished with either a small 'product' made in large numbers or a single large prototypic project.  Leaf-blower hover-crafts are a typical example of such efforts at the high school level, although it would be up to the students what they wanted to make.



Senior Year:   Practical Engineering & Advanced Engineering:

NOTE:  There would be two classes offered at the senior level:  One for students going on to college and another for students entering the work force upon graduation.  The senior project, however, would be executed by both classes working together.


Practical Engineering
  • Solid Modeling (CAD)

  • Industrial processes

  • More business communications -resumes & cover letters etc.

  • Personal / Financial  math 

  • Advanced tool work and tool safety

  • Scheduling & planning

  • Job skills / attitudes

Advanced Engineering
  • Careers in Engineering

  • Materials & testing

  • Research papers -materials, processes, trends etc.

  • Product engineering / costing

  • Advanced practical math -economics, business modeling, time value problems etc.

  • Business practices

  • College / Academic skills







It seems that the trend in written lesson plans is to change trends every year or so.  I am thoroughly schooled in a few of these trends and, frankly, don't like any of them.  This being so, I offer my own lesson plan design, subject to a given school's policies and preferences.




Trammel-points and the Pythagorean Theorem:


GOAL #1:

The student will be able to use the trammel points he or she made the previous week to derive a near-perfect right angle and transfer this right angle to acrylic sheet and thereby make a drafting triangle of instrument quality accuracy.  

GOAL #2:

The student will understand the Pythagorean Theorem and the 3-4-5 triangle down to the very core of his being and use it with care, reverence, and craftsmanship.



Trammel points, large pieces of paper, randomly cut pieces of acrylic, metal straight edges, knife to score acrylic, sandpaper



1.  Pythagoras is reviewed, and a means of laying out a 3-4-5 triangle with pencil, paper, and trammel points is presented and reviewed.  

2.  Scoring and snapping acrylic is demonstrated.  Students are given scraps of acrylic to practice.

3.  Students lay out, score, and snap their own 45ļ triangle. (Time & resources permitting, they would also do a 30-60-90 triangle.)  These are sanded as necessary.

4.  Students label their triangles, and turn them in for in-class testing.  This will not be for a grade, but rather to get an idea of which student is the most meticulous craftsman toward building effective work-teams



1.  The Egyptians & Greeks and geometry.

2.  Pythagorean theorem & triangles (review sum of internal angles etc., discuss triangles re. strength / rigidity and uses in engineering).

3.  Review plastic as manufacturing material.

4.  Review safety, craftsmanship.










The following are examples of a daily  'sponge" to keep the students occupied as class is getting started & organized.  It involves simple math, but requires careful thought and calculation.  Such exercises would follow (or proceed as the case might be) related class work.  The required math would be appropriate for the math curricula of the student's grade level.  Given time and a modest budget, the classroom could develop a set of pulleys, motors, and simple machines etc., that would allow students to measure and predict outputs from "real life."






The following is a more advanced sponge -perhaps for the college bound seniors.  This is still a fairly simple problem and could be made considerably more challenging with different failure rates and different raw material costs etc. for both processes. 




You are the project manager for your companies' new product -the Widget-Tron 3000.  The marketing department assures you you they will sell 5,000 units this year, 10,000 next year and 20,000 the following year and they will be able to get $100 apiece for them.  Your board of directors does not concern itself with anything more then 3 years out and tell you that money costs the company 5% per year.  You must choose between machining the Widget-Tron 3000 with existing machinery, or injection molding it with new tooling (molds etc.) that you will have to pay for.  Which process do you use to maximize profits?


Machining  -labor intensive, but your company  already owns the machinery. Injection Molding -cheaper per unit, but it needs an expensive mold.
Capitol Costs (money you have to spend just to get ready to make the thing)     -$0.00- $1,000,000.00
Cost / item to manufacture $50.00 $20.00





In Conclusion, I offer material and press from a high-school architecture class I taught some years ago.  This was virtually my first experience as a teacher and I have since added considerably to my bag-of-tricks.  None-the-less, I am quite proud of my students and I will let it stand as I wrote it at the time.

Morgan Hills Times  June 22, 1999Arch-2.jpg (68203 bytes)

I taught an architecture class and in addition to the regular curricula, I gave my students the opportunity to earn extra credit by doing work on a 1/12th scale doll house. This particular project differed from the usual secondary school model building projects in two ways: First, we started with a box of dirt. We surveyed and leveled this dirt, excavated for the foundation (with a spoon), formed and poured an actual concrete foundation.

Second, while the students earned a number of points of extra credit for completing a given task, (and tasks that equated to the various trades and phases typical to residential construction), they had to "bid" to be awarded the contract. Generally, -but not always- the lowest bid won the contract. This bidding process became one of the classes favorite activities, and I was able to sneak a lot of information, planning skills, and real world pragmatism into the studentís thinking. Consider the above mentioned foundation. Two young women won the contract with a "bid" of 25 points of extra credit. (As the grades were to shake out, 25 points was to be the difference between an A and a C for instance.) They set the forms in the previously excavated hole and, -as would any good general contractor, I checked these forms before we poured concrete, and found them to be unacceptable. I suggested that they use some of their points and "hire an engineer." One of my best students, (from this and another class) was painstakingly meticulous about measurement and understood the idea of level very well. At my suggestion, they negotiated and decided among themselves that the girls would pay their "consulting engineer" 4 or 5 points for his help. The three of them then discovered that the excavation was off, so we called the "excavation contractor" back on the job to correct his work, and made him pay a point or two of his extra credit to the foundation contractors for having delayed the job. The girls then set the "re-bar", (straightened coat hangers), and hired another student for a few points to mix coffee cans of concrete for them as they poured, tamped, leveled etc. the concrete. (And dear me, it seems that dirty hands are just a dreadful crisis to young women of 15 to 17 years of age.) As a final note, they forgot to set J-bolts around the edge of the garage slab and neglected to cleanup after themselves one afternoon. Because it fell to the general contractor to fix and clean-up, the students learned about back-charges the hard way.  When all was said and done, the girls earned a significant shot of extra credit, but not nearly as much as they thought they would.  More to the point, they learned--and learned very well-- that God, AND the "profits" are in the details.  

As the semester and construction progressed, some interesting dynamics developed quite aside from my input. For example, the students quickly began to recognize specialized talents in one another, and form quite effective teams. It was not uncommon for the extra credit points of a "contract" to be divided up between the student that originally won the contract and drew the plans, (and didnít get her hands dirty) and two other students that actually did the construction. They also came to own the whole project, (have a look at their faces in the newspaper clipping -the imperative to "be cool" notwithstanding), and became rather protective of their own work in particular. For example, the poor students that did the siding were supervised to the eníth degree by whichever student framed the wall they were currently siding.