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RH, D-B create engineering prep program

Tomorrow's engineering marvels just might be hidden in the minds of today's middle and high school students, waiting for good education and opportunity.

With this in mind, two area school districts have signed onto a new program through Collins Career Center that channels interested students through a series of pre- engineering and engineering tech courses, with the hope of turning out top-flight engineers and engineering technicians.

Project Lead the Way got the blessing of the Rock Hill school board Tuesday. The Dawson- Bryant school board had given approval earlier.

Students begin in the eighth grade learning about the various careers in technology and progress to actual engineering courses during high school. Later, during high school, studies will focus on lab work and more complex engineering principles.

"The goal is to increase high school students in engineering and engineering tech programs. They'll learn the basics of electricity, mechanics, automation and robotics," Rock Hill High School Principal Steve Lambert said.

Lambert said when area school principals and counselors met recently, they discussed the need to focus attention on careers in the engineering fields. Project Lead the Way is meant to do just that.

"There's such a gamut of engineering fields that weren't there 15 years ago,"

Gary Salyers, Collins Career Center associate director, said. "The school board and the administrations at both districts should be commended for

thinking about their students' futures and for recognizing the

growth of the engineering field."

The two schools will offer courses to eighth and ninth graders next year and then build a year at a time until those students complete their high school education.

"This would enhance our math and science programs," Lambert said. "It would take such things are algebra and geometry and make them real. They (students) look at what is good design. I think this program will really, really benefit our students. I think it's

a good opportunity."

Lambert and Rock Hill Middle School Principal Wes Hairston were a delegation of Rock Hill staff who visited a Project Lead the Way program at a school in Akron.

"The thing that most impressed me was the interaction among the students," Wes Hairston said. "It's a great program."

Project Lead the Way is recognized in 42 states and by more than 900 school districts.