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Editorial: Engineering pathway a sign of times

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IT’S hardly breaking news that educators around the country are being urged to take the lead in developing more engineers for the workplace.

A lot of the pressure is being exerted on colleges and universities where these technical skills are developed, but it seems each year that American companies are forced to turn to other countries like India for the manpower to fill these jobs.

Locally, educators and the business community got the message several years ago and have directed their efforts to bringing about an “in-house” solution.

One important effort outlined before the Bartholomew Consolidated School Board last week has been a project called the Seamless Pathway to Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing offered in local schools.

One of the key elements in the program is an early introduction course work specifically related to engineering and related disciplines. It has been in place on Columbus Signature Academy’s New Tech campus, and school officials plan to weave it into courses at East and North high schools next year.

In many respects it serves as an intense introduction to a field many young people reserved for college, but by offering at least a sampling, school officials believe they can increase interest in this particular career. So far reaction has demonstrated there is a potential for enhancing that interest.

The Seamless Pathway project is divided into three courses:

  • Introduction to Engineering Design: For freshmen and sophomores, the class integrates geometry with engineering. It has 48 students.
  • Principles of Engineering: The next level for students who want to continue pursuing engineering. The class has 19 students.
  • Computer Integrated Manufacturing: The final level for serious students who want to continue their studies at college. The class has 10 students.

It also has the potential to develop home-grown engineers, those who might be interested in careers with local companies.

BCSC students earn credit toward the next level of preparation at Ivy Tech Community College-Columbus/Franklin, IUPUC and Purdue School of Technology.

The engineering program is yet another in a series of local projects designed to provide the community and its residents with educational programs that are in tune with the needs of society in general and the workplace in particular.

It is supported by the Community Education Coalition’s EcO15 (Economic Opportunities through Education by 2015) initiative, which set aside $80,000 for the project.

It is this kind of public-private sector commitment that gives this community and its neighbors a leg up on other communities around the country that are still struggling to meet the changing demands of the 21st century.

One important difference could be that local leaders have gone beyond looking to outside sources for help and have addressed the situation internally.

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