Ever since I first interviewed to become a student at Marin SEL I have heard about the engineering program. I heard stories of students building everything from massive structures to detailed spoons. With all the hype from students and staff I expected the class to be a welcome break in my schedule, one that allowed me to forget the monotony of everyday high school life. Little did I know that within the very first weeks of the class I would learn that engineering was not just a break in my schedule, but an open canvas where I could become closer with my classmates and display the little artistic talent that I possess.
To be completely honest, I grew up in a household where woodworking was a family tradition; distant relatives and even my own father had designed and built their own houses. When I was little, walking around and active jobsite was about as normal as going for a stroll in the park. This allowed me to grow up with a basic knowledge of carpentry, but there was always one thing that I always lacked, an artistic vision for how I wanted any given project to look. Now, maybe it was too many falling 2” by 4”’s that struck me in the head, or too many hot summer days sniffing paint fumes while painting our house as a child, but up until the start of Marin SEL engineering I never displayed any artistic usefulness. What I failed to realize was that as a student in engineering was that no matter what you will be pushed out of your personal comfort zone. For some that means cutting wood with massive saw blades or sending sparks shooting into the air as one cuts metal with a grinder. The experience that pushed me out of my comfort zone came within the first week of the class. To give a little context to the situation our first building related assignment was to create a simple spoon. Doesn’t seem that hard. Right? Well it turns out that the transition from wood block to spoon was not the easiest thing to do. I spent the first day working on that project sitting, attempting to design my spoon in a manner that would make the end product look somewhat aesthetically pleasing. I sorted through many designs always dissatisfied with the way they looked. Finally, I settled on a simple design, one that looked alright but would remain useful even after years of kitchen use. Through the spoon project and engineering class in general I came to realize that my personal creative style was represented more so by items that were simple yet functional rather than complicated and boisterous.
As the class progressed after the spoon project we began to focus on our main project that we would work on for the entire year, building a chicken coop. With the help of my totally radical group members Ben and Michael we set off the build an awesome chicken coop that would take any abuse that was put upon it in it’s lifetime. Thanks to Ms. Oropallo’s insightful instruction we were able to make an awesome design that will stand the test of time, maybe even with a little bit of style. Working together in this group has allowed me to connect with members of my class that I normally don’t connect with in an organic way that usually doesn’t happen in the typical classroom environment. The experiences that I and my classmates have had during engineering will be the ones who not only shape our high school experience but us as human beings.
Marin SEL engineering has taught me things about myself that I had not learned after 16 years on this planet. Coming out of this class I now have knowledge and practical experience that will help me in my future education and beyond, but most importantly I built relationships with my classmates that will last forever.