Intro to Engineering class constructs chairs out of cardboard

Intro to Engineering class constructs chairs out of cardboard

Sophomores Erin Huffer, Caitlin Campbell, and Lindsey Kraus craft a preliminary skeleton for the cardboard chair that they must make for the Intro to Engineering class. Once completed, the chairs are supposed to hold up to 200 pounds using only cardboard and glue.

Brianna Glase, Managing Editor

Cardboard and glue sound like the craft materials for a preschool class, but these are also the only things that Intro to Engineering students may use to build fully-functioning chairs that hold 200 pounds.

Though the class won’t be actually selling these, the goal for this project and other subsequent engineering projects is to teach important problem-solving skills to students that can be used in the future.

“The goal is basically to put the engineering design process into practice to help the world and sell product,” Intro to Engineering teacher Julie Baker said. The engineering design process is an eight-step plan that starts with identifying a problem, goes through coming up with ideas and putting them into practice, and results in a finished product that hopefully solves the original problem.

“To be honest, I’m not sure what I will gain from building a chair out of cardboard.  However, I did notice that when I was actually designing the chair, I was using things that I have learned in class,” senior Derrick Powers said.

As in real life, going through all the steps of the engineering design process hasn’t been a quick procedure.  “We have been working on this project for over a week now, getting information about how to build the chairs, materials, designs, history of cardboard even.  Just last Thursday we finally began to build the chairs,” sophomore Caitlin Campbell said.

Baker hopes that the chairs will be complete this week so that the class can evaluate how well their cardboard chairs stack up. According to Baker, the chairs will be scored on comfort, style, and how strong they are, among other factors.

“I hope that [the students] understand the overall engineering design process, from having an idea to designing it and then making something useful and helpful,” Baker said.

Like the cardboard chair project, the Intro to Engineering course is a new addition to the school, for this is the first year it has been offered to students, even though the plans have been a few years in the making.

“The idea for the class came about almost two years ago.  Mrs. J.K. asked me to develop a preliminary curriculum guide for the Intro to Engineering class, in anticipation that John Carroll would eventually have a STEM program. The engineering course will help round out the STEM scholars in the program by applying all that science and math knowledge they are accumulating,” Baker said.

Some students were not originally planning on taking Intro to Engineering when they decided on their schedules last year.

“No one in this class actually chose to take engineering. We were all signed up to take computer programming and the school replaced it with engineering, so we all got pushed into this class,” Campbell said.

Even so, some students still think positively about the course.  “I think the class is a great idea because it gives students a taste of a college degree.  It is a great way to get more interest in engineering and help people decide what they want to do in college,” Powers said.

“My main objectives [for the course] are to show [the students] what engineers do and to involve them in the engineering design process.  I hope they will be interested in engineering, and, even if they don’t study engineering in college, at least they will come away with an appreciation for the job engineers do to develop and improve products and processes we use every day,” Baker said.

Brianna Glase is a Managing Editor for The Patriot and