DSUSD creates future for students in engineering at two high schools

This article is a continuation of the summer series on CTE (Career and Technical Education) programs throughout the Desert Sands Unified School District. CTE programs are offered at five of the district high schools with technology being a key element in many. Today’s article highlights two of the engineering programs. DSUSD is an open enrollment district and students living within our boundaries can apply to participate in any of the CTE programs. For more information on any of the CTE programs visit www.dsusd.us and select a high school from the ‘Select a School’ drop down menu.


Engineering at PDHS

By Gregory Tyler, teacher, and Kevin Bilbo, director of college and career readiness

DSUSD Creates Future for Students Via CTE

PDHS engineering students visit JPL in Pasadena to learn about unmanned space exploration.

The Palm Desert High School Engineering Pathway leads students to real-world problem-solving and hands-on engineering skills. Students work in teams to build critical thinking and communication skills, becoming industry-ready engineers. They learn how things are designed and built today; then design innovative plans for tomorrow using the same technology and software found in the real world.

Using the Project Lead the Way curriculum, a premier career and technical education program that prepares students to lead productive adult lives in high-wage sectors, students enroll in a specialized progression of courses to attain industry skills in order to graduate with a career diploma or to enhance their university-preparatory diploma. Courses include principles of engineering, engineering design, computational thinking, data manipulation, economics, and more.

DSUSD Creates Future for Students Via CTE

PDHS engineering students explore water treatment while touring Coachella Valley Water District’s Palm Desert facility.

The program challenges students to continually develop or improve their interpersonal skills, creative abilities, and problem-solving skills using engineering concepts. Students dig deep into the engineering design process, applying math, science, and engineering standards to hands-on projects. They work both individually and in teams to design solutions to a variety of problems using 3D modeling software and document their work in an engineering notebook. Throughout the series of classes, students use the same industry-leading technology and software as the world’s top companies. Students are introduced to AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor, Revit, 3ds Max, and other industry standard design software programs used in varied applications in the engineering industry. Classes taught as part of the program help students understand why algebra and geometry are important elements in their study of engineering.

The curriculum covers civil engineering, architecture, environmental sustainability, and engineering design. Students work with seasoned engineers from the local industry finding mentors and internships.

Whether a student decides to go to college or straight to a career, the skills offered in the engineering pathway are more in demand today than ever before.


IHS Engineering

By Mylo Hildebrand, teacher

DSUSD Creates Future for Students Via CTE

Indio High School engineering students at work.

The engineering program at Indio High School offers students opportunities to explore and develop technical skills in a variety of academic disciplines. The Project Lead the Way (PLTW) program consists of a four-course sequence beginning in freshman year with an introduction to design using computer software (CAD – computer-aided design). This skill allows a student to prototype in technical ways using modern 21st century tools including 3D printers, laser cutter, and a CNC (computer numerical control) machine. Sophomores explore architecture and civil engineering using Autodesk Revit. Juniors explore electronics and computer programming as well as the broad range of skills and opportunities that are open to an engineer. As seniors, students participate in the capstone course and act as true engineers and inventors. Using the skills developed in previous years, students design and prototype solutions to real-world problems. Students also have the opportunity to job shadow and complete internships with engineering firms in the Coachella Valley, helping them decide if a career in an engineering related field is right for their future.

Students within the engineering department are encouraged to participate in the Indio High School SkillsUSA chapter. Students can enter either skills-based or leadership-based competition categories with a chance to win personal recognition, enhancing college applications. Competition categories range from students designing and prototyping innovative products to demonstrating skills in CAD, welding, and robotics.

DSUSD Creates Future for Students Via CTE

Indio High School’s SkillsUSA team.

Engineering is not only for students who are considering a career in an engineering field but also for students wanting to get hands-on skills using both traditional and modern tools. It is an exciting opportunity for high school students to contribute to the innovations of tomorrow while building student confidence through skill development. When students develop confidence, they are willing to try new things and start to believe that they can do remarkable and meaningful things.

Student Rebekah Edwards shared, “Joining the engineering program at Indio High School has been a great decision for me. There are so many things to explore from technical design to electronics to computer programming. I am developing new skills that I would not have an opportunity to experience in traditional classes.”

Steven Heise, senior survey manager at Mark Thomas Engineering explained, “As a local engineering professional I was invited to explain the career possibilities in the fields of civil engineering, land surveying, planning and environmental, as related to land development and transportation projects. Students have also been given the opportunity to intern at our company and experience a day in the life of an engineer.”



Image Sources

  • IHS students: DSUSD