I am in the process of exploring all avenues in regards to a High School National Honor Society for Engineering/Robotics for the students that are part of my FRC teams and engineering classes we offer here at the Mt. Olive High School. My school offers NHS Chapters for English, Art, Business, etc. but nothing for Engineering. After doing my initial search and awaiting a response from the NHS organization directly I wanted to reach out to the CD community for assistance/recommendations/thoughts.
I feel very strongly that our students are just as committed to our classes and the FIRST program like other academic areas in my school that do get recognized. My students are just as deserving and this is something I would like to see changed! I am looking for anyone else who has pursued this path and may have some insight for me.
I looking forward to seeing the responses and hope that I can get something rolling here with FRC 11 & FRC 193!
Just an addition: We found the National Technical Honor Society, but that seemed to fit more with vocational/trade school subjects. The Science National Honor Society seems to be focused on the more “traditional” sciences.
I found the (NEHS) National Engineering Honor Society online that was first established in 2012 by a high school I believe in Florida. The website link does not work though. Maybe they were trying to get this off the ground and could use some help. I think this is a perfect thing for the FIRST community to embrace fully.
At our school, our NHS program is not very rigorous (nearby schools are even more lax). While membership may be held in regard by scholarships and colleges (I can’t see why, it is not very exclusive in my area), most students, and some teachers, treat it as a joke. The more serious volunteer organization at our school is our KEY club.
The same goes for Varsity Letters. The students involved in the robotics program do not really care too much about getting a letter that says “Robotics” on it, and are certainly not going to pay for $100+ for a jacket…
The fledgling engineering and technology programs are too new to have had the chance to gain any recognition. However, we do our best to bring [good] attention to the programs through our robotics program. I do not think that there will be any letter opportunists until our team is a force of nature. Our Government Debate team has won competitions and been recognized on an national level for several years, and we still don’t have a letter for that…
Every robotics-student-alumni that comes down from college to visit, describes how their experiences in robotics helped them gain admission, or win a scholarship. In an essay, or during an interview, our FIRST experiences set us apart from the plethora of NHS/volunteer/Varsity Letter droves. We have a lot more to say than, “I volunteered at a hospital and homeless shelter and cleaned up a road.” or “I showed up to practice, put in the hours, suffered the pain, and won 1st in state”. Something about “working with mentors” and “developing problem-solving skills” and “team-leadership experience” and “connecting with local businesses as sponsors” really turns on interviewers; it isn’t something than many people claim to do.
I wouldn’t say that there is a disdain for honor societies, but rather that we have a much more unique payoff. This isn’t to say that some of us would not like a Letter, or an official organization backing up our credentials.
Best of luck to you Mr. B. A faculty member that recognizes the value of FIRST is a valuable person indeed, and an honor to know. Please keep us posted.
I appreciate those of you who have replied. From my seat, I feel very strongly that our students should be recognized at any and all levels for their time and commitment to FIRST. Our students earn their varsity letters like any other student athlete, they put in time 12 months out of the year and should be recognized. It took me three years to get the school board to approve our program as a varsity team, but to me it was time well spent. Being able to hand out varsity letters to our students at our year end banquet is AWESOME, and seeing future students striving to earn theirs has been a positive element here with MORT. Thanks again for your posts and hopefully we can continue to find ways to help us recognize our students! Mr. B.
I too feel strongly that our students should be recognized for their team efforts. Attempting to model other honor societies, I recommended to both our high schools (2 schools, 1 team) criteria that needed to be met in order to be awarded a graduation honor cord, and this includes student input: minimum of 3 years on the team, minimum GPA requirements, minimum community service/outreach hours, and a leadership role for at least 1 year.
One school just said no, you are not an honor society. The other school recommended the students be awarded a patch after successfully completing 4 years. Really?! Every sport hands out a patch for only a season of participation. Not sure why we should have to wait 4 year-round seasons.
We are unique as we are a hybrid of a sport and a club/activity and they just don’t know how to deal with us. If a **ROBOTIC **honor society was formed, I would be willing to do all the paperwork to get a chapter within our school district. An engineering honor society may not appeal to all team members because not all of our robotic students go on to pursue engineering degrees. Most, but not all.
Here are some tips that I received from David Cordts who is from:
Associate Director of Honor Societies
NASSP | National Association of Secondary School Principals
NHS, NJHS, NEHS
1904 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191
P: 703-860-7328 | 800-253-7746 | F: 703-476-5432
I think that it a lot of leg work to have this implemented.
National – State – Local: Where does an association fit in?
Organization, Part 1: Structure & Alliances: How to form an association.
Governance: Constitutions and bylaws; director; officers & their duties, business meetings
Membership: Data base, updates, confidentiality, fees, application forms.
Recruitment/acquisition plans & timetables; school-based or student-based?
Financial Management: How to create, utilize, and manage financial resources; IRS guidelines, non-
profit status, tax filings; fundraising; corporate sponsorships; business plans
Branding & Marketing: Creating an image through structure, products, & services.
Formal name, abbreviation, and logo (trademark as “TM”)
Leadership Resources & Networks: How to create and utilize leadership
Communications & Public Relations: Methods to enhance your messages:
Internal and External media
Service: How to enhance Service Learning opportunities with your association.
Organization, Part 2: Maintaining effectiveness with an office, records, etc.
Legalities: What risks need to be covered by our policies and procedures? Incorporation, Insurance,
and liability protection.
The Network: Opportunities for involvement with the association. How will the network of members
be developed and shared? Students, Advisers, Principals, interested/relevant external parties.
Activities/Calendar: Competitions, conferences, and other functions. What will the association offer
to its members during the year?
Contacts: Who to contact for more information?
Additional topics: TBD
I don’t know if this procedure is totally necessary or I was just being pacified. I was in contact with many people who also felt the way I did and they will give support/time/energy to get this done.
By the same token, why is there no AP Engineering? Is it because engineering is too diverse? Is it because very few people with engineering experience work in the education sector? They have an AP just about everything else.
I’m not sure how well an AP Engineering class would work. AP classes correspond to and translate into college credits for the many universities that accept them, but that’s because the teachers and the curriculum are vetted by the College Board while the students’ grasp of the material is vetted by their performance on the AP test. When it comes to Engineering, it would be much more difficult to agree on course material to teach and test on. Also, I feel like many universities wouldn’t even consider accepting the AP credits until the course itself was ABET accredited, which I doubt would happen.
Now I would love to see enough high school engineering courses across the country to create a need for a third-party accreditation board for high-school engineering and technical courses. Unfortunately, many STEM programs are created at high schools that don’t have the resources available to sustain or even truly have programs that benefit students interested in STEM.
To be perfectly honest, even if an NHS for engineering students sounds welcoming and good, for some reason I can’t imagine FIRST being like this. A huge part that I love about FIRST is that anyone can join for many different things to do. Previous experience or not. Turning something so welcoming and open and warm into a exclusive club with requirements to get in, in my opinion, tarnishes the FIRST mission.
With regard to an AP Engineering course, the college board does have one in the works and it’s expected to be established in another couple of years, not sure when. It’s intended to take the place of the freshman year intro to engineering course, but I wonder if credit will ever be granted by a college since many of these intro courses are very school and program specific.
I teach an engineering course now and was asked for feedback on the proposed curriculum. I’ll reserve judgement on its quality until the final set of standards are released.
I started reading this thread because I’m looking for a way to recognize students who fully commit to our FRC team. I’ve proposed a varsity letter because I think that conveys something to the student as well as college admissions people, but I was turned down.
At my school, robotics is considered a club and as such receives no formal recognition except at the end of senior year when it is too late to affect college admissions. If I have students who have committed to the time and effort as frosh, soph or junior, I want that to be immediately apparent. The core of my team works as long and hard as any sports team and I think that should be recognized.
I’m frustrated by the challenges of this and wonder if anyone out there has any ideas.