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The Student News Site of High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering

The Echo

The Student News Site of High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering

The Echo

The Student News Site of High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering

The Echo

The Rebirth of Drafting: What’s New This Year?

HSMSE’s engineering program is something incredibly unique to our school, and it really puts the “specialized” in specialized high school. Engineering is an important skill set that’s rarely taught at the high school level, but at MSE — even if it’s not the track you choose — you still get some exposure to the field. Drafting is our first introduction to engineering; it teaches everything from technical drawings to significant inventions throughout history. This year, after Mr. Choi’s retirement, the freshman experience with Drafting has been completely different from the rest of the MSE student body’s. Not only do they miss out on mindfulness at the beginning of class and his beloved jokes, but the curriculum has also changed completely.

One of the first things we did in previous years were our research projects, for which we created presentations based on different engineering fields and significant inventions of the past. This was helpful in understanding ways engineering benefits our lives. Early on, we also learned how to do technical drawings on paper. Mr. Choi thought it was valuable to engage physically with the subject and thoroughly understand how it works before relying solely on the CAD (computer-aided design) program. He taught us different methods of drawing objects, beginning with oblique views (top and side views) and moving on to isometric (a type of 3D view). The program we worked with was called Inventor, which is an Autodesk program used to create 3D models of designs. We practiced both the program and drawings first by recreating given shapes. This was helpful because it taught us how to use different Autodesk Inventor tools like cutouts, extrusions, symmetry, and projecting geometry. The subsequent projects relied heavily on these skills, and we applied them to more practical endeavors like creating a 3D puzzle cube and designing a toy train.

One of the major differences between Drafting in previous years versus this year is the length of the class. Some students only have one semester this year, with the other semester being replaced with a beginner coding class. The changing of teachers and schedules naturally means some of the curriculum will be cut or changed. But what did the new teachers decide to change? I spoke with Ms. Rasuk to understand the process.

The first thing she explained to me was the new schedule. The Drafting classes are divided into two groups: Ms. Rasuk’s classes and Mr. Chan’s classes. Ms. Rasuk’s students have Drafting throughout both semesters and take Drafting during their elective/Freshman Academy period, while Mr. Chan’s class only takes Drafting for one semester and has Coding during the other. This means there’s a lot of disparity between what the different classes are learning. She told me that they were both doing somewhat different things in their class because of the different schedules, but that they kept a lot of Mr. Choi’s previous curriculum. For example, the research project about different potential fields of engineering was kept, though it was slightly altered. While in previous years, the presentation was just a slideshow, she wanted tomake the project more creative and visually interesting. The students created cardboard models for their research, imagining their projects as displays at an engineering college encouraging students to pick that major.

She explained that while some students are very adept at coming up with ideas and developing them, some struggle a bit more with creativity, especially in an unfamiliar field. “That’s why research is important, so you can have it to refer back to.” She also wanted a greater focus on physical work, introducing drafting tools such as t-squares and scales. These skills become very important as you move forward in engineering, she explained, and having a good understanding of them early on is necessary if you want to succeed later. They practiced this through new projects: drafting 3D letters and words, designing a desk caddy, and designing a chair. Their chair designs were based on another research project she created, wherein students picked a famous chair and its designer to study. The aforementioned puzzle cube and toy train projects were kept, as they’re useful in teaching students how to use programs like Inventor, which is useful for the future. Having new teachers with new priorities undoubtedly changes the experience of the class, but the core information of the class has endured. Students this year are still learning information and skills that will serve them well in their future at MSE, and potentially in their future careers, they’re just taking a slightly different path to get there.

As previously mentioned, freshman Coding is also a new class this year at MSE. It’s being taught by Mr. Kung, who also teaches math. They’re learning Python, which is a very common programming language, and is considered simple enough for beginners. The class is primarily taught through homework assignments. They receive two to three assignments per topic and occasional quizzes, with topics such as conditionals, ifs, and functions. This provides a good background for students who will take AP Computer Science in their junior or senior year, or those who go on to code in college or professionally. While the AP Computer Science course uses Java instead of Python, knowing one pro

gramming language is still useful in understanding the fundamentals of coding, which makes it easier to learn more complex languages like Java. With how widespread technology is becoming, coding is useful in almost any field, and having a

basic understanding of coding concepts and principles is necessary whether you become a data analyst or run an online shop. The introduction of this class means that all future MSE students will be taught how to code during high school, whether or not they end up taking AP Computer Science.

Our school’s community is constantly changing as time passes. While these changes may take some adjustment, they reflect progress in our community. It was sad for many to say goodbye to such a beloved member of our community, Mr. Choi, but there have been good developments since. Coding, for example, is becoming an increasingly necessary skill in many fields and learning it is very important, perhaps as much as the core subjects. Mr. Choi’s retirement gave the new Drafting teachers the space to revamp the curriculum a little bit, and now it’s being taught to all future MSE students regardless of track. As teachers and students come and go, it’s important to be aware of the ways our school community changes and consider the positives that come with moving forward.


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