Engineering was introduced to Maricopa High School's CTE offerings this school year. Photos by Joycelyn Cabrera

Levi Watlington wishes it could have happened much earlier in his academic career.

The Maricopa High School senior is an aspiring computer scientist and a student of the school’s inaugural engineering course.

“If I were to go into a different field, like an engineering field, I think this would really help me,” he said. “We built a bridge out of toothpicks. Engineers need to account for suspension and how much weight is going to be on the bridge. We made catapults; it’s a pretty fun class.”

Engineering finished its first semester at MHS as a Career and Technical Education course. Students are taught different elements of engineering, including electrical, mechanical and software. The program is available in three sequences: Engineering I, Engineering II and Engineering III.

Aian Pableo teaches the course twice a day. Pableo, originally from the Philippines, got his master’s degree in electrical engineering before coming to the United States to pursue teaching. He teaches college and high school level classes.

“I’m still adjusting, I’m still learning,” he said. “I’m happy when students learn something from me, when they say, ‘Ah ha!’”

Michelle Poppen is the CTE director and a vice principal of MHS.

“Engineering can help to build on [critical thinking] skills, bring the math skills into a practical realm,” Poppen said. “One of the nice things about CTE is to apply what’s being learned in the core subject areas and then being able to apply those skills into real life experiences.”

Levi Watlington

While not the only subject taught in class, circuitry was an in-depth unit the students learned during their first semester with Pableo.

Sophomore Charles Lyndell dreams of becoming an inventor. He said the accomplishments of Thomas Edison inspired him to pursue inventing.

“I’ve learned different kinds of ways to measure electricity, volts, currents, resistance and some different ways to draw blueprints and ways to read how much electricity there is in something,” Lyndell said.

MHS provides 12 CTE programs for students. After surveying the students on campus last year about what programs they would like to see, engineering and fashion design were among the top choices.

Sophomore Kyle Draper said what he learned in his engineering class ties into his after-school robotics club.

“I go and sit down and I learn a new concept. One time we learned about circuits, and it was always very fun to figure out how electricity works and how the circuits are.”

Kyle, still unsure of his future career, said he is looking into chemical engineering.

Charles Lyndell

The engineering program is a new opportunity for students at MHS to prepare for their careers after graduation.

“This is a foundation; it’s basics for them,” Pableo said. “If they were to push through to college for an engineering degree, this would help them.”

After finishing his first semester teaching an engineering course at the high school level, Pableo said he is ready to adjust his teaching style according to feedback he gets and mistakes he’s made.

“He’s one of my favorite teachers,” Watlington said. “He’s laid back, but also we get our work done and everyone likes him.”

This story appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.