Being a part of the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy for four years in high school had a tremendous impact on my life. I learned how to machine, use CAD, and work on tight deadlines (aka not sleep). DPEA played a role in getting into college which happened to be on the other side of the freeway.
Senior year of college I decided to work with DPEA’s FIRST robotics team as my capstone project. This gave me the opportunity to give back as well continue my learning. I mentored 6 high school students on the transmission team along with a fellow engineering student. Over an 8 month period I taunt my students gear theory and how to understand material properties. They became comfortable with CAD software and understood the basics of creating part drawings for machinists. Most importantly they learned the difficulties of creating a final product and how partial completion doesn’t exist when you are creating something. Half of a robot is not a robot, it’s a really big paper weight. I continued to mentor the transmission team the year after I graduated college while working as a full time mechanical engineer.
The next two years I came back to the DPEA to help them finish a new project called Mechatronics. The project fused art and science by displaying different physical phenomenons. This time I worked with 3 different groups of students to finish their projects. Each group had students in different places through the projects and different skills sets. Similar to mentoring the FIRST team, I helped students bring ideas into design and then into a physical product.
The projects at DPEA were always a huge undertaking but the end product was incredible by any standards. I enjoyed helping at DPEA because the kids were given an opportunity to work as equals with adults. The expectations were high and some students, and mentors, wouldn’t be able to step up. But the people that did step up to meet the grueling task would learn more in a year than some would in four years of college. They would learn what hard work really looked at and what they could accomplish if they gave their all.
In college I tutored a few high school students in math and AP physics. Besides being a source of income, I truly like working with kids. If something didn’t make sense it was my fault not theirs. It was fun to take concepts that seemed confusing and to simplify it by find the right analogies. I’ve always dabbled with the idea of teaching, so tutoring was a way for me to teach while still being an engineer.