New Central Cambria High School lab to teach innovation

New addition has 3D printer, laser engraver

EBENSBURG – Central Cambria High School students will get a chance to try their hands on engineering and innovation this fall thanks to a new lab completed over the summer.

High School Principal Chris Santini said a newly constructed innovation lab was built by converting two computer labs in the school’s upper A-wing into one space for new two new classes, called Principles

of Engineering and Inventionland.

Santini said the introductory engineering course is part of the Project Lead the Way curriculum.

He said the other course’s curriculum will be

provided through the Inventionland Institute in Pittsburgh.

“Project Lead the Way is recognized nationally as the premier engineering program for high school students. Central Cambria High School will be the first in Cambria County to offer this program,” Santini said. “A team of Central Cambria teachers and administrators toured the (Inventionland) facility last spring to learn about the business. We then signed on to partner with them on their new high school course, which is focused

on their nine-step invention and entrepreneurship


Santini said the focus is to prepare students for their future. “We know that many of the jobs of tomorrow do not even exist right now and that students will need to be adaptable in the workforce of the future. These courses are designed to give our students skills that will help them be successful later in life,” he said.

Santini said there are two sessions of Principals of Engineering, which will be taught by a current science teacher.

“Donna Ridgeley just completed two weeks of intensive training at Bucknell University in order to teach this course,” he said.

“In a nutshell, students will learn the engineering design process, use the process to develop solutions for a design problem or challenge and test their solutions. They will gain experience in programming robots to perform various tasks and learn other skills related to engineering,” he added.

Ridgeley will also

teach the Inventionland course, according to Superintendent Jason Moore, who said the lab will have the capacity of two full classes — about 45 pupils — but said, “at most times, there will probably be between 20 to 25.”

Santini said the lab has a 3D printer, laser engraver and new computers.

“It will have new desks that can be configured individually or in small collaborative pods. The final phase of furniture will include work tables where students can cut, drill, pound, paint, etc.”

Central Cambria officials started the initiative to construct the lab last year, but most of the work was completed over summer, Moore said.

New floor tiles and wooden trim for the lab’s door and windows, which acts as a divider for two rooms, were completed Sunday.

Moore said the lowest bid for the tiles was about $3,900 and that the wooden trims’ costs were “negligible” because of Greg Shaffer.

“Our maintenance director, Greg Shaffer, is a skilled craftsman, and we have all of the necessary woodworking equipment here on campus,” Moore said, adding that the lab’s initiatives were funded through both district and private funding.

“Peoples Natural Gas has been very generous in supporting this program by approving a $15,000 grant for equipment. Competitive Power Ventures has also been a big supporter of our STEM initiatives.”

Moore said Central Cambria has a long-term strategic plan for improvement.


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