Our Engineering course sequence is unique to St. Paul’s School. It is one of the few engineering programs offered at the high school level in the country, and for over 15 years we have developed our engineering curriculum to stress hands-on and experiential learning. Every course focuses on deterministic design and self-learning, with an emphasis on designing/building and then writing/reflecting about the process. The core Engineering course sequence consists of three, one-term courses:
- The introductory fall course provides multiple experiences in the Engineering Design process – from CAD-designing puzzles, through building/programming VEX Robots, to building small underwater robots.
- In the winter we use the FIRST and VEX Robotics Competitions as ultimate Engineering Design exercises. This means that since 2004 the students in the winter Robotics course have been members of FIRST Robotics team 1512, and last year this class also began entering VEX Robotics competitions. With three sections of this class we have had over a tenth of the entire student body on our Robotics Team during the past three years.
- In the spring students create and then implement their own design proposals in the Engineering Design Projects course. This allows students to continue robotics projects, or delve into new work as varied as iPhone app programming, ballet pointe-shoe design, or drone-helicopter-control systems.
The beauty of the course sequence is that students can take these courses multiple times – allowing for in–depth study and mentorship opportunities for experienced students.
For students interested in Computer Science we offer an introductory programming course which teaches the basics of programming, debugging, and algorithmic design. Students can design custom computer science projects after this course to follow a number of CS tracks, including smart-phone programming, data base design, data structures, or computer hardware.
We also offer a full-year course in Artificial Intelligence, which is based on the graduate-level Russell & Norvig text (Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach, 3rd Edition). We learn LISP programming, research the AI field, and build/program autonomous programs and robots during the year. We also investigate the nature of intelligence and discuss whether computers can ever attain a level of intelligence that could be deemed “conscious.”