Introducing high school students to wonder of engineering

Pre-engineering and engineering technology student Matthew Rice of Lehigh Career & Technical Institute works on creating a water system exhibit for HydroMania, an annual event held in May at Cedar Crest College in Allentown. Rice’s high school is Parkland.

From the time she was a middle school student, Aimee Paradis loved to build models. When vocational school was suggested as an option, Paradis followed up and enrolled in the website design program at Lehigh Career & Technical Institute in Schnecksville.

From the time she was a middle school student, Aimee Paradis loved to build models. When vocational school was suggested as an option, Paradis followed up and enrolled in the website design program at Lehigh Career & Technical Institute in Schnecksville.

When that program didn’t click for her, she switched, entering Stephen Latanision’s pre-engineering and engineering technology program as a junior.

“When I got there, I loved it, especially 3-D modeling and learning how things are built – what goes into making a product,” Paradis said.

Today, the 19-year-old is in her second year at Lehigh Carbon Community College, studying mechanical engineering. She plans to attend Temple to earn her bachelor’s degree, ultimately working in machining and/or drafting.

Paradis is in good company, as students in Latanision’s course have gone on to study at Lafayette, Bloomsburg, Drexel and Penn State universities, among others, and to get jobs in all areas of the engineering field.

“This course gives high school students a chance to explore their interests and earn real-world experience,” Latanision said. “They learn on equipment they’ll use in college and on the job.

“They study safety, history of engineering, design process, communication and teamwork, electricity and electronics, manufacturing, assembly and fabrication, engineering systems, robotics and green energy and more.”

Nine high schools in the Greater Lehigh Valley send students to LCTI; this school year, 39 study with Latanision. His students work to earn college credits by completing engineering-related tasks and are excited to report back to him about the trainers they see on their college visits.

“We have expensive, state-of-the-art equipment, and the fact that LCTI has these college-level trainers is a real advantage to them,” he said.

In addition to learning basic and advanced engineering and manufacturing techniques, students work toward completing more than 150 distinct tasks that earn them college credits and often admission to top engineering schools.

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