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Workshop trains teachers in electrical engineering

– Huntington North High School physics teacher Andrew Villanueva wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the electromagnetic applications workshop at IPFW.

“I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” he said.

Villanueva was one of five area high school teachers who participated in a three-day workshop put on by the university. The last day of the workshop was Friday.

During part of the session Friday, teachers sat in a small dark room while electrical engineering students went over the ins and outs of an electromagnetic applications program the teachers could later use with students.

“Don’t be intimidated,” the presenting IPFW student told the teachers.

Villanueva said some of the programs the group is learning about are a bit advanced for today’s high school students, and his school wouldn’t have the computers to run the programming anyway.

But Villanueva said he now has a better idea of what electrical engineering looks like at the college level.

“Anytime you’re bringing together discussions of high school and college it’s really beneficial and important. I imagine this will be an ongoing conversation,” he said.

The workshop’s organizer, electrical engineering professor Abdullah Eroglu, said the teachers will be invited back in the spring to expand on the programs they’ve learned so far and will bring 10 students with them to learn more as well.

Eroglu said he hopes the workshop will help teachers integrate these computer-aided design programs into their teaching “to increase student retention and encourage them to go into STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.”

Eroglu said it also gives the electrical engineering undergraduate students experience in a leadership role as they work side-by-side with the high school teachers to train them and answer questions.

Villanueva said the IPFW students reported using this technology their freshman year of college, so he said it’s important for high school teachers to gain experience with the programs in the hopes of better preparing high school students for college.

He said he may suggest investing in the technology at Huntington North for that reason and would look into using a free version of some of the programs.

The high school teachers will leave with kits that can scan tags and relay information using electromagnetic waves, comparable to the sensor tags that many stores use to track merchandise to prevent theft.

On Friday, teachers were learning to use the kits, and Villanueva said he’s been thinking about how they can be used in his classroom.

“I’m going to try to implement the technology the best I can,” he said.

Teachers volunteered to participate in the workshop, which drew science teachers from Columbia City, Leo Junior-Senior, Huntington North, Eastbrook and Lakeland high schools.

The workshop is paid for by the Indiana Space Grant Consortium, which works to fulfill NASA’s goal of applying electromagnet applications to everyday life, Eroglu said.

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