34 www.CNC-West.com CNC WEST February/March 2020 C orona High School was established in 1896, and CNCWest featured them in an issue back in 2014. Their technical education department has changed so much since then that it warranted a revisit. One thing that hasn’t changed is Eric Lee. Mr. Lee has been a Corona High Panther since 1991 and has taught everything from metal shop, graphic design, computer science, engineering and architecture. He chairs the engineering department, and to- gether with fellow engineering instructor Kristian Johnson, they are the leaders of Corona High’s STEM Academy of Engineering. Kristian is a US Airforce Veteran, an advanced mathematics and engineering instructor. Corona High began their partnership with Project Lead The Way (PLTW) six years ago as an addition to their Career Technical Education (CTE) pathways program. The principal at the time was looking for a way for Corona High to make a splash in the district and stand out from other high schools. “Our principal came to me and said there is this program called Project Lead The Way, and I think it would be great for the school,” Eric Lee recalls. “I was familiar with it, but not what you would call a fan. I fought the idea originally, but af- ter implementing the program I saw firsthand how amazing it was for students. Kristian Johnson had taught PLTWat an- other school and came on board here to bolster our program. We are six years in, and I have 100% [drunk] the cool-aide. I think it’s the absolute greatest curriculum for teaching engi- neering. Our program is heavy in science, math, and physics, but we teach the students how to use every single machine in this manufacturing lab. PLTW is the only nationally accred- ited engineering curriculum and our students benefit greatly by having this program available.” Kristian and Eric designed the manufacturing lab to simu- late a makerspace for high school students. They have a little bit of everything for wood, metal, and plastics. These mini shop areas are all part of the lab that also houses lasers, robots, 3D printers, CNCmills, and CNC lathes, and routers. “We’ve invested a lot in 3D printing technologies and in robotics,” de- tails Eric Lee. “We have several different types of 3D print- ers ranging from SLA and FDM to a new FormLabs Form3 that prints upside down using liquid resin and laser technol- ogy. We have half a dozen Dobot Magician robots as well as a $39,000 industrial robotic arm that is part of a FlexibleManu- facturing System.” The PLTW program is a four-year investment, and stu- dents must start as freshmen and remain in the STEM pro- gram until graduation to meet the requirements. Every student in the STEM Academy starts by taking Mr. Lee’s In- troduction to Design class. Sophomores take Mr. Johnson’s Principles of Engineering course before securing a choice of options as juniors. Juniors can take Mr. Johnson’s Aerospace Engineering class or Computer Integrated Manufacturing with Mr. Lee. Seniors then complete the program with the Engineering Design Development course. Students benefit from enrollment and completion of the Corona High School STEM Academy in many ways. They can earn dual college credit from either Rochester Institute of Technology or Mis- souri University of Science and Technology for a relatively small transcript fee. Students also get priority enrollment at CORONA HIGH SCHOOL STEM ACADEMY Article & Photos by Sean Buur