Engineering Students Learn by Doing

@work: a career blog

(This article originally appeared in The Florida Times-Union at www.jacksonville.com.)

Bill Kane and Student Engineer Bill Kane helps a student with load bearing formulas.

It was March, so it wasn’t surprising to see a group of young men discussing brackets.

But these weren’t the usual March brackets. The young men in question are engineering students at Palatka High School and they were double checking the math on load-bearing formulas.

Bill Kane, maintenance and reliability manager at Georgia-Pacific, was helping the group see that the current formula included misplaced brackets, changing the mathematical order of operations and providing the wrong answer.

This is what education should look like. When teacher Jan Boland recruited engineers from the local Georgia-Pacific plant to mentor students, neither she nor the GP staff knew what the mentors would actually do. When Kane, a mechanical engineer, suggested that the students design a monorail to move huge motors within a storage…

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