Washington High School students had a chance to learn from the pros last week when scientists from the Trusted Microelectronics Division at Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane spent a week working on projects with computer science students.
“We wanted to give the students an idea of what our work is like at Crane,” said Dr. Adam Duncan. “We wanted to get them familiar with the type of projects we do and give them some real-world projects that might help them after high school.”
“This was an important week for our kids,” said WHS math and computer science teacher Matt Riney. “They need to know the real-world opportunities that are out there. Part of the goal we had was to show them ways what we are teaching connects to the real world and at the same time let them know about the sophisticated technology that is used at Crane.”
This was a pilot project by Crane. Carrying out an instructional program on the high school level was something new to both the scientists and the students.
“All of the students were eager and anxious to learn,” said Duncan. “They embraced the projects and did a good job dealing with the new things we were throwing at them and they showed a lot of problem solving and critical skills. We were surprised at how fast they took to the projects.”
“The week was good for both the students and their instructors from Crane,” said Riney. “I think by Friday they were all insanely proud of the results. Our AP class was mastering a project on FPGA that is usually taught to upper-level college students. It was a great experience for the kids because of what they were exposed to and it sets them up for success.”
Students walked away from the week with a lot of positive comments.
“I think it is a good way to learn how to build new things,” said freshman Canaj Ajadinoska. “It’s fun to program it. I didn’t think we would be doing anything like this. I thought we would mostly be coding. It was a fun project.”
“I’ve enjoyed the class very much,” added senior Zachary Dulin. “I’ve really enjoyed the text-based coding. It was nice to build these protected volumes where an alarm goes off it you try to breach it.”
One objective of the week of projects was to begin the process of looking for engineers and technicians from the area to work at Crane.
“We hope that the students also learned about Crane and what we are doing,” said Duncan. “There is a real shortage of engineers to solve the problems we are working with. We hope these students will be inspired to study STEM area in college. Come back and intern with us and even join our workforce.”
For the students the taste of real-world projects has them thinking about futures that could tie to technology.
“This project showed me new ways to code,” said freshman Harrison Denny. “I find this stuff interesting. I might for a college degree do coding. This class is hopefully going to help me with that.”
“I think when I graduate this class will give me more quantitative reasoning, being able to understand exactly how things work when it comes to coding and electronics,” said Dulin. “That will be valuable if I go into a field like that.”
The enthusiasm of both the guest instructors and the students is something that has Riney hoping they can duplicate with future sessions like this one.
“This week was so positive,” said Riney. “It was one of the best weeks of my teaching career. I am really grateful for this partnership with Crane. This was really exciting.”