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West // West Oahu Coverstory
Rasa Fournier

Waipahu Welcomes Engineering Academy

Waipahu High School is the first school in the state to offer its students accredited engineering training.

After more than a year in the planning stages, the school welcomed its new Academy of Engineering (AOE) with a dedication ceremony Aug. 9. Twenty students are enrolled in the college prep program, which is recognized by the National Academy Foundation (NAF).

In recognition of the new academy, NAF presented Waipahu High with a certificate at a national conference in Washington, D.C.

“The certificate picked up on the idea that Waipahu High School is in its 75th year,” said the school’s science and AOE director William Speed, “but that we’re still pushing the envelope by being the first school in the state to have a certified, validated engineering academy with a (specialized) curriculum.

“The academy is a collection of four electives (relevant to engineering) and required math and AP courses,” Speed added. “The College of Engineering at UH looked at what we’re doing and said that it offers great preparation. It gives the kids a chance to get all of their engineering done in four years.

“That’s not been our record. Most of the time the kids don’t have calculus, which is critical for engineering school, and they end up spending five, sometimes six years getting through engineering school.”

Students will learn from a Web-based curriculum, while also taking academic core courses and electives in four fields: electronics, biotechnology, engineering and architecture. They also will do a senior project and have internship opportunities in the community. Students successfully completing AOE studies will be eligible for a diploma of recognition from the state Board of Education.

An advisory board will oversee AOE progress, collaborating with teachers and helping design and implement student project work. The board also will provide workplace learning opportunities, classroom presentations, guest speaking and mentoring.

The board includes people from the University of Hawaii’s College of Engineering, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., Hawaii Computer Training & Solutions, Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association-Hawaii Chapter, and from dozens of businesses and organizations.

The Waipahu High program joins 62 Academies of Engineering throughout the nation. These academies primarily serve women and people of color, with the goal of furthering the study of engineering and engineering technologies for these underrepresented populations. The AOE joins three academies also recognized by the National Academy Foundation already in place at Waipahu High: Finance, Hospitality and Tourism, and Information Technology Academies.

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