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Academy helps draft futures

February 04, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Pre-engineering/CADD Academy students design their futures using drafting technology and group work skills.

The 18 academy members, based at Washington County Technical High School, spend about 61/2 hours together each day under the direction of academy teacher and founder Rose Daley.

"It's a different type of environment because they become a group," Daley said. "They spend their day like they would at work."

She started the academy in 1996, which makes it the oldest academy in the Washington County Public Schools system, said Sharon Chirgott, school system academy director.

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The computer program CADD, which stands for Computer-Assisted Drafting and Design, is used by students to draft and design two- and three-dimensional drawings and to create animated images.

The academy will get part of a $200,000 state technology education grant, Project Lead the Way, to install about five new pre-engineering courses into the curriculum beginning next school year, Chirgott said.

Academy students will take the Principles of Engineering course in the fall through the grant, which is sponsored by the National Alliance for Pre-Engineering Programs, she said. Daley will get certified over the summer to teach the course.

Daley said students first finish general classwork, like learning to design floor plans, maps and line drawings. Once basic coursework is completed, they can mold their academy experience to their own interests.

Noah Holweck, 16, working on a three-dimensional drawing of armor in his downtime, said he was interested in pursuing a career in video game design.

Holweck said that before he joined the academy, he designed and wrote the storylines for his own video games, created three-dimensional plans of Smithsburg High School, his home school, and three-dimensional designs of a giant castle.

Architecture is what interests members Senior Robert Startzman and Junior Philip Kidwell.

Kidwell, 16, said he hasn't gotten into any heavy architectural plans yet since he just began his two-year academy membership, but he likes drawing houses.

Kidwell was designing a map of Hagerstown.

Students travel to Hagerstown Community College to use the school's drafting computers almost daily and can receive up to 16 college credits for the work they accomplish through the pre-engineering/CADD program, Daley said.

Last year for the first time, students' portfolios were reviewed by members of local companies such as Mack Trucks and BMGM Architects so students could see what types of skills future employers are looking for in their applicants.

Current academies include the Academy of Manufacturing, based at Williamsport High School; Academy of Finance, South Hagerstown High School; Academy of Medical Careers, North Hagerstown High School; and Washington County Fire and Rescue Training Program, Washington County Technical High School.

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