Design & Innovation Program Launched

Partnership with CSU prepares students for college and careers.


Photo by Grant Gravagna.

Beachwood’s new design and innovation program is almost up and running this year, with new engineering I and software engineering classes being offered for the first time.

The program, which began last year with the rollout of the introduction to design class, is a partnership between Beachwood City Schools and the Washkewicz College of Engineering at Cleveland State University.

Principal Ed Klein described the program as “a sequence of classes.” It is designed so freshmen take the introduction to design class and sophomores take the engineering I class.

Juniors would take engineering II and seniors would have some  as yet undetermined engineering experience. Klein said this might involve courses at CSU. Neither the engineering II or senior project has been developed, as there is currently no one eligible to take these classes.

While honors software engineering is not part of this sequence, it expands BHS’ engineering offerings. Students can take this class after successful completion of AP computer science.

Dr. Majid Rashidi, professor of mechanical engineering at CSU, advised Beachwood in developing the curriculum for the program.

Rashidi worked with Director of Curriculum, Technology & Mechanical Systems Ken Veon and former technology teacher Gus Matheou.

“[Fenn Academy] is basically the outreach and pre-engineering program for the Washkewicz College of Engineering at Cleveland State,” said Gregg Schoof, who is Fenn Academy Assistant Director. The academy partners with local high schools and provides engineering education and college scholarships, among other programs.

“We wanted a program where students would have the foundational knowledge they would need when they go to a college engineering program so Beachwood students will do well they enter college,” Klein said.

The program has been in development for three* years and is replacing the old engineering drawing sequence.

“We revamped them to involve more 21st-century learning skills and working with different projects, “ Klein said. “Going through a design process is a heavy part of it.”

Schoof said the Fenn Academy was also created with the intention of providing students with 21st-century skills.

“The program grew out of the need to meet the shortage of engineers in the United States,” Schoof said.”…industry came to us and said we need to fill this gap and we need to fill it quickly.”

Chris Croftcheck, new to the district, will be teaching the introduction to design and engineering I classes this coming year. For the past two years, he worked for a construction company. Prior to that, he taught industrial arts and photography classes for ten years at Euclid City Schools and Cuyahoga Heights Schools. He has engineering training.

“The intro to design is basically introducing the engineering discipline, the design process as well as designing projects,” Croftcheck said.

“The second course builds upon everything and takes a deeper look into those engineering disciplines,” he added.

“[Students will gain] some refined skills as far as drafting, design and using certain machinery that we have in the program,” Croftcheck said, referring to what students will get out of the engineering program.

Sophomore Jeremy Gloger took introduction to design last year and plans to continue with all the classes in the sequence. While he said he learned a lot in the class, he noted there was room for improvement.