In the first class of the high school's engineering sequence, West says, the focus is to get students familiar with the design process. This reverse engineering project combined many of the techniques they had been learning all semester.
"It's about using all of these skills — you can't just jump into it," she said. "It's about analysis and visualization, and there are a lot of steps that are going into these projects."
The students agree that these aren't just subjects in the classroom. Especially for the seniors, they're skills to take with them in the next phase of their lives.
"(I'll use them) in a future job, hopefully, and in college," Wilson said.
The groups also had to have quick facts about their item and be able to show all their citations where they gathered their information. Their presentations were then giving using Power Point and a computer projector to show their calculations and other information they've been recording in project notebooks.
And a group project is one way to get out of their comfort zone, West says, pushing them to work together as a team.
"There was a lot of resistance to having a group project be so much of their grade, but when you're on the job, you're never by yourself. In engineering, you're working with builders, with bosses, with software designers ... you're never just sitting by yourself in a cubicle doing your own thing.
There are two Project Lead the Way Engineering classes at the high school, and this is the first year for classes at Evans Middle School. There are even plans to start younger students in the program, getting students interested in these courses as early in life as possible.