Engineering/Robotics class in High School

I am the teacher/mentor for 1466. I am working on a proposal for a year-long credit class in engineering/robotics. My best resource would be other FRC teacher/mentors. I would like very specific advice, copies of syllabi, course materials, etc. If you are a teacher/mentor, please help. If you are a team member who has such a class at your school, please put me in touch with the relevant teacher.


I would suggest looking into project lead the way.

You might want to get in touch with Amir, from team 1717. You might get a multi-year class set instead, but you just might be able to cram it into one year…

Here is a link to the curriculum that FRC 931 developed a few years ago. They still use something pretty similar to this at Gateway Tech HS in St. Louis.

Contact David Bodmer of Team 11 for information as well.

Our district has been running classes since around 2000-2001

I’d suggest contacting Marty Rothwell of Team 612/Chantilly High School. Their program is a little bit unique due to the nature of the Fairfax County Public Schools academy program at CHS.

We (the Dublin City Schools) are going to start the Dublin Engineering Academy, using the Project Lead the Way model (the design curriculum) next year in cooperation with the Metro School (home of team 3324). It will be three periods in a row (a little over two hours) at the end of the day. The course will be team taught by two teachers, one from Dublin and one from Metro, with students from all the involved high schools. The students will get 3 high school credits and Ohio State credit for Engineering 181, Calc 151 and Calc 152. We don’t have our syllabus done yet since I have not been to the training for Digital Electronics yet, but I would be happy to share/discuss what we’re doing.

I 2nd this suggestion. Mount Olive’s program is first class all the way.


This is the first time I came across this tread. Team 108 is an after school robotics program for Dillard High School. But during the school year the teacher has several robotics classes where he uses mindstorm, vex, and bo-bots. He also teaches animation and a game design class. If you haven’t found what you needed, don’t hesitate to send me a pm or an email. I will get you in touch with the the teacher from 108 and you can speak to him directly.

Also, I plan to start teaching at a private school starting this fall and I also teach at a summer youth program at Palm Beach State College. If you would like to talk to me about it, I would be more than happy to share my resources with you.

I went to this school in high school. It started out as an independent curriculum but now is a pltw school.

Talk to Sean Schuff, he is the master mind behind the school…

Interesting. I wonder how PLTW is working out for them, and what it’s giving them that they couldn’t do independently. I don’t have enough experience with it, but I’ve heard some unfavorable things about it.

It was only non PLTW for the 1st year. I believe the PLTW gave them more structure in possible courses to offer. I know that TESLA has grown in both enrolled students as well as classes offered since its inception in the 2002-2003 school year. TESLA started teaching math courses as well about 3 or 4 years ago that engage math in the context of engineering instead of solving the word problem in the book.

I haven’t been involved with the school since I graduated in 2005 so the person to talk to would be Sean. He has a presence on CD and would definitely be open to answering a PM or an email.

Pltw is very good but it has high upfront costs and a rigid curriculum. If you are more inventive or want to integrate robotics into the curriculum i suggest a hybrid program. I teach a class called directed studies in science within our engineerning academy that uses small problem solving projects, trebuchet building, career exploration, project presentations, spaghetti noodle bridges, underwater robotics and more. Something I learned is that students in this class aren’t all going to be robotic students so it hasn’t replaced our after school program. Someone explained it to me this way “the gym class isn’t the football team”! Feel free to contact me if you want more specifics.

You aren’t the first and you certainly won’t be the last to hear unfavorable things about PLTW but that doesn’t necessarily make it a universal truth. Everyone will have their opinion. Everyone will have different expectations and different issues.

As for me, as an educator, I appreciate the PLTW curriculum for a variety of reasons. First and foremost is the industry and educational support behind the program. A lot of well-known, reputable companies, colleges, and universities see a tremendous amount of value in the program or they wouldn’t be the state affiliates or offer university credit for PLTW courses. The rigidity in the curriculum comes from the need for standard delivery and common assessment that allows those colleges and universities to offer credit. There is also the flexibility to add your own projects and activities as you see fit but the fundamental concepts will remain the same no matter what pre-engineering curriculum you look at.

An added bonus to PLTW is the integration of the VEX Robotics System into the curriculum. I know VEX is not a part of FIRST but robot building is robot building and automation is automation and engineering is engineering. It doesn’t matter whose platform you use - the concepts are the same.

Our school looked at a few other programs for pre-engineering and PLTW was the best one available and the most established. It’s hard to fight momentum. No matter what curriculum you look at, each one is going to have a few warts you’ll need to look past or tweak for improvement. Yes, PLTW does have some up-front costs associated with it but if you do your homework, you’ll find you may already have on hand the equipment associated with those up-front costs. Otherwise look into grant funding. The Kern Family Foundation does an AMAZING job of supporting PLTW in a four-state area of the Midwest.

As for a robotics curriculum, ours is based on providing students with the foundation for being on our robotics team so it deals with the specifics of being a member of the N.E.W. Apple Corps. Safety, wiring, machine use, where to find our stuff (we’ve got a balcony full of supplies), Inventor, game strategy development, robot integration, and programming are just a few of the things we cover. The class is lead by veteran members of the team with a teacher mentor serving as a guide. That last part provides some tremendous leadership and organizational opportunities for our veterans.

Hope this helps the conversation. I’d be more than happy to answer other questions via PM.

Thanks and HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!!!

I am also looking to see what is out there for curriculum that directly relates to USFIRST. I will look at the posts here so far, but has anyone heard about 1717? Amir’s kickoff mentioned something about being a model and having his integrated curriculum available, but I’ve had no luck finding it or contacting someone from the team. Anyone else hear of where we could find this or how to contact Amir Abo-Shaeer (or another good contact for 1717)?

I would like to second Sean’s comments about having a lot of the needed equipment. PLTW is expensive, but we did not find it to be more expensive than any of the other established programs we examined. This is probably particularly true for a school that already has an FRC team, since much of the expensive equipment is the same.

Team 1717 is from Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy, Goleta, CA.

You might try searching the CD members list (orange bar at the top of the page) using the advanced search for team 1717. There are at least a couple of mentors in that listing. Some of them might not have been on in a while, but at least one was on not terribly long ago.

You could also go to the FIRST website, click the “Events and teams locator” blue box on the right side of the page, and search for FRC teams in California. From there, you should be able to find their number, click it to get to their team page, and follow the link to their website.

I am a teacher and FRC coach at a small private school and we have neither the money, nor the room for Project Lead the Way. I am considering trying to really boost the engineering curriculum in our school over the coming years and I am starting by running a VEX robotics elective.

The bots are small enough that you can have several small teams each build a bot and have in-class competitions. You can still get pretty deep into the engineering and design aspects including CAD, and it makes it fun because you can always have them preparing for a competition.

My class is structured around the VEX boot camp at first where we will have three separate in-class mini competitions. Competition 1 is focused mostly on the mechanical aspects of building. Competition 2 is focused on programming including autonomous movement and sensors. Competition 3 is a free build where I just tell them about the game and it is up to them to design a winning robot. We will probably have 8 or 9 bots in the competition. I try to run the competitions as FIRST-like as possible in order to make it a good prep for students to join up with our FRC team afterward.

If you are interested in something like this and want more info, just e-mail me at

You can also take your teams to a local VEX Robotics Competition event in Kansas City:

I went to East Lake High School in Tarpon Springs, Florida and starting my freshman year of high school, 2006-07, we began running a hybrid PLTW-CTEF program.

CTEF, otherwise known as Career Tech Education Foundation, was founded by 79’s former coach Paul Wahnish and the program which uses the PLTW curriculum along with internships for the high school students at local engineering companies, is now in about 5 or 6 schools throughout Florida.

For new info go to