Science teachers to instruct new engineering class

Claudia Wong

1A new year-long science course called Principles in Engineering will be taught this year by science teachers Karen Hutchinson and Jesse Reiner to give students exposure to engineering.


UTeachEngineering, an initiative at the University of Texas at Austin designed to expose students to engineering, developed the curriculum. Hutchinson and Reiner attended a class led by other instructors who teach the course at UT Austin in August.
“There were other teachers whose areas of comfort and discomfort were pretty much the opposite to mine, so we all tried to help each other out and learn from each other,” Reiner said. “I’m not an engineer by training and have no formal experience with design, so certain aspects of the training were pretty challenging for me.”
Hutchinson and Reiner decided to teach the course after Hutchinson, Science Department Head Larry Axelrod and Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts attended a presentation at Windward School.
“By the end of the year, I hope that students will have a good sense of some of the different fields of engineering,” Hutchinson said. “They also should have a lot of experience thinking like an engineer—going through disciplined brainstorming, breaking a complex problem up into smaller pieces, narrowing down ideas to pick a final design and conveying their design idea in writing and drawing.”
Reiner said the course includes group projects, data analysis and student presentations.
“The curriculum is really different than any other course I’ve taught and I think quite different than any other course in the upper school science department,” Reiner said.
“I’m partly nervous because this course is so different than anything I’ve ever done before,” Reiner said. “And I’m not necessarily expert in everything that I’m going to be asking students to do, but I’m definitely excited to see what kinds of ideas our students come up with.”