Building Future Engineers

A goal of this blog is to promote teaching young people the engineering method. I have spent over twenty years teaching middle and high school students engineering. I think the best way to teach engineering is by doing engineering with a minimum of lecture time and and a maximum lab time. The labs or projects need to be interesting and relevant to kids. We try to create labs where students use math as a tool that saves them time when doing the engineering project. We explain the underlying science ideas or better yet we try to get the students to rediscover these concepts. The sweet spot is a class that is both engaging and academically rigorous.

I will provide tips and trick for teaching kids engineering as well as news that you might find interesting. Here are some of the topics I will cover:

  • Aviation featuring Fly To Learn
  • Bridges featuring West Point Bridge Designer
  • Programming including Scratch,Python and C++
  • Physical computing — think Arduino
  • Raspberry Pi Computing
  • Robotics featuring LEGO EV3, NXT and Tetrix

I have linked a local TEDx talk I did in Charlotte last year. It explains my views on teaching children. I am very curious what you think and I hope you will share your ideas.

WATCH: STEM teacher sit down! Socrates is dead.

Opportunity for students to build a real airplane

Build A Plane and GAMA Look for High School Students to Build a Real Airplane

Build A Plane and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association are holding a nationwide competition to select 4 kids for a free trip to Glasair Aviation facilities in Arlington, Washington.  Students will build a Sportsman 2+2 aircraft from June 17th through June 29th, 2013, after which the professionally test flown with the goal of displaying the Sportsman at this year’s AirVenture 2013 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

To participate in this competition, your high school class will complete a computer program called Fly to Learn, which teaches STEM by using aviation.

  • Fly to Learn software is provided free of charge.
  • Teachers can participate in one or several free webinar sessions should they require assistance in learning the Fly to Learn program. The webinars are scheduled for March 6, March 13, March 20,  9 PM Eastern.
  • The curriculum in this software typically takes about a month to complete.
  • The last step in the Fly To Learn program is for your kids to each build a virtual airplane, then fly it in a predesigned challenge included in the program.
  • The software records parameters like time, distance, fuel efficiency and more.
  • Data from across the country will be analyzed by a team of aviation engineers and the wining high school will be eligible to send 4 students, plus a teacher and a chaperone on an all-expenses paid trip to Glasair to build a flying Sportsman 2+2 airplane.

Winning students get:

  • Round trip airfare from their hometown to Seattle, June 16–June 30, 2013
  • One teacher from the winning school will accompany their 4 students at no charge
  • Hotel room (double occupancy)
  • All meals
  • All ground transportation
  • Supervision by their teacher and chaperone 24/7.
  • Guided tour of the Boeing Museum and/or the Boeing factory
  • Young Eagles airplane rides
  • Star status during live webcasts
  • All participants are invited to attend a special awards ceremony at AirVenture on Tuesday, July 30th, 2013.


For more information, call 804-843-3321, or log onto or

Go to Fly to Learn »