PJ's Principles of Engineering and Design Technology gives students an inside look into growing field

Director of Communications
Pope John XXIII Regional High School

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth story in a seven-part series on Pope John’s new course offerings, which are exercise science, design thinking, principles of engineering and design technology, principles of entrepreneurship, fashion and retail marketing, sports and entertainment marketing, and introduction to guitar. To check out courses like this or any other of our dynamic educational offerings, visit www.popejohn.org.

SPARTA — Now more than ever, high schools are embracing the world of engineering.

After all, engineering is one of the top college majors that students pursue once they graduate from high school.

At Pope John XXIII Regional High School, students now have the opportunity to get a taste of this field before they head off to college, as the school offers a class called Principles of Engineering and Design Technology.

 “It’s been really good,” Pope John senior Robert Russo said of the class. “We go over a lot of different types of engineering. You get to see a good range of everything that you can experience while studying engineering.”

In Principles of Engineering and Design Technology, students learn the basics of what it means to be an engineer, what the major branches of engineering (chemical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering) are, and how to solve problems within certain parameters. The students have also done hands-on activities and projects such as building bridges out of manila envelopes, learning how to do computer programming with math languages, and building microprocessors.

While learning an overview about this field, the students have also been introduced to a ton of mathematics, which is something that students have to understand how to do well if they want to be successful in the field, according to teacher James Jarrell.

“One of the most important things to me about exposing them to this class is that in some colleges, students go to school as wannabe engineers and they can’t hang in because of the math,” said Jarrell, who upon graduation from Montclair State University taught at Sparta High School and Mountain Lakes High School before coming to Pope John this past fall.

“But, in a class like this, I’m not only exposing them to the concepts of engineering, but I’m exposing them to more math than they’ve ever had to apply before and doing it in a way that is not distasteful. Fortunately, the students are taking well to it and they’ve even said to me, ‘We’re glad that you exposed us to it.’ They think engineering is pretty cool and it has changed their outlook on it.”

This class has certainly made an impact on students like Russo and fellow senior Alyssa Talon.

For Russo, taking this class was an opportunity for him to establish a base knowledge in the field since he is planning to attend Stevens Institute of Technology to study engineering.

“I want to go to college for engineering,” Russo said. “Mr. Jarrell’s class has been really helpful. We’ve been through a lot of topics, but it is not like we just hit one of them, moved on and forgot about it. This is information that I can take with me into college.”

For Talon, she is now looking into studying engineering when she attends Rutgers University next fall. 

“This gave me a different perspective on engineering,” Talon said. “I didn’t know what was going to happen with me taking this class and how much work was involved, but it just made me like the field even more. There is going to be computer science, there is going to be math, and there is going to be physics. It has helped me prepare for what is going to be thrown at me.”

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