David Martinez, a new engineering teacher at Heights High School (HHS), is making great strides for his students. Within the one year that Martinez has been at HHS he has reached out to different engineering organizations and fostered successful collaborations between their programs and the school.
The organization that is currently involved with HHS is Engineering Alliance for the Arts (EAA).
According to Martinez, HHS is the only school right now in the state that is working with EAA. Every week through EAA, Martinez’ robotics/automation class is introduced to a local structural engineer from a variety of companies.
“These professional engineers volunteer an hour of their time to teach my kids,” said Martinez. “Right now we’re focused on bridge building and bridge competition.”
The program lasts for nine weeks and will end on the 19th of this month as students reveal and test out their bridges, in which they are only allowed to used popsicle sticks and hot glue. Martinez said in a previous class one group of students made a bridge that weighed only 10 ounces and held up 235 pounds of weight.
“It’s important as a teacher to help the students explore different realms of engineering and with programs like EAA, we are able to do that,” he said. “It encourages a lot of creativity and thinking outside of the box. They’re not just sitting there being bored but they’re actually creating and building things.”
Martinez says programs like EAA also provide an opportunity for engineers to share their stories of success with students and inspire them through the tale of their success.
“Most of these students come from very challenging backgrounds and are going to be the first in their families to go to college,” said Martinez. “Their story is a lot like mine, as I was the first in my family to go to college after growing up in a very economically disadvantaged situation. So I share my story with my students because I’ve been an engineer in manufacturing for twenty odd years and know the struggles that can come with this journey.”