Girls Rule in This Engineering Class

Patrick Moerchen, the Technology & Engineering Teacher at Kewaskum High School, Kewaskum, Wisconsin, was frustrated by the number of studies indicating that girls were apprehensive about taking STEM-based classes in high schools throughout the nation. He saw it first-hand in his high school engineering classes. Realizing that girls learn differently than boys, and considering that he might draw more girls in by gearing coursework to them, he designed the Women in Engineering course to offer more opportunities to those girls who are interested in engineering but need a feminine touch.

The Women in Engineering course at Kewaskum is the first of its kind in that state. It teaches CAD design using two-and three-dimensional SOLIDWORKS® design software (DassaultSystemes); the relationship between design and CNC using state-of-the-art CNC machines in the school’s Technology and Engineering lab; engineering drafting; and, if the students decide to pursue advanced opportunities, the use of Mastercam® in their Computer Aided Machining course.

In the advanced CAM course using Mastercam, students learn to program their parts directly into Mastercam software and then specify 3D machining, multi-axis cutting, and solid model cut verification using the Mastercam component. The result is a steel product that has been designed and produced by the student using a CAD/CAM software package that is widely used in shops throughout the world.

Students have access to recent Kewaskum graduates who have gone on to forge successful careers in the engineering and tech field. In addition, Moerchen says that once his students move on to college they are easily able to draw upon their experiences in the Women in Engineering class and apply them to their post-secondary work. Many of his former students are using the same Mastercam software they used as high school students as part of their college projects. The Women in Engineering course is worth three college credits via Moraine Park Technical College with which Kewaskum High School has collaborated to establish its Technology and Engineering Education offerings. Moraine Park has provided 19 Mastercam seats and allows students to visit the college twice per semester to use its CNC equipment. Moerchen notes that these visits are ideal opportunities to talk directly with instructors and get a feel for the tech world outside their classroom. “I want them to have all the confidence to pursue a STEM career,” he says.

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