|Action||Comprehensive Revision of the Licensure Regulations for School Personnel|
|Comment Period||Ends 11/6/2015|
November 4, 2015
Dr. Steven R. Staples, Superintendent of Public Instruction
Virginia Department of Education
P.O. Box 2120
Richmond, VA 23218
Dear Dr. Staples,
My name is Robert J. Hughes. I am 25 years old and currently a student at Old Dominion University. I am on track to graduate Cum Laude with a Mechanical Engineering degree with an Aerospace Engineering minor in May of 2016. I am currently, as my senior project, working with NASA to help them improve their plane design for the GS-10, also known as the "Greased Lightning." For this project I am lead of the design and modeling portion of this project. During this project we are to build a thrust stand to experimentally find the thrust and acoustic tradeoffs of different types of propellers. This is an exciting study for not only my group but for the university as well because this area of study hasn't had much time invested in it as of this time.
Today, I am writing you today to express to you that I do not support the proposed regulation item 8VAC20-543-280. I believe it’s the exact opposite route that Virginia Publics Schools should be taking in regards to the opportunities that could be given to the future technology driven generation.
That being said, I fully support the Senate Joint Resolution 308 passed by the 2011 Virginia General Assembly. Being a future engineer myself, I can't help but being excited for a resolution that requires science, mathematics, and technology teachers to collaboratively teach engineering. I would like to explain to you that this isn't blind support on my behalf. Now that you know where I am going, I would like you to know where I've been. I hope that this can aid you with the understanding of how important the technology department is.
This track I have taken, though it seems like a long one, started when I reached 9th grade. Up until this point, though I always enjoyed math and would do it in my sleep, I never really connected to any of my classes. During this 9th grade year I took a class that finally gave me that spark and it was called "Basic Technical Drawing." In this class I was taught the engineering design process and how to draft blueprints and drawings by hand. Though we all went into this class thinking it was going to be easy we were quickly shown that it was not. That being said, I had a blast. That was the class that introduced me to Autodesk's AutoCAD program and my interest immediately skyrocketed. Finally, I found something that fully grabbed a hold of me. Yet, it was only the beginning.
The next year, my sophomore year, is when I would be introduced to the finest teacher I have ever had the privilege to meet and subsequently be taught by in a class called "Computing Systems." This course introduced me to computer operations and programming using the “Alice” program developed by Carnegie Mellon University. In my Junior year I took "Electronics Technology" where we used engineering to design and build circuit boards by hand. This class allowed me to learn a solid electrical foundation which still helps me with projects (such as the NASA project I mentioned above). Another class I took, expanding on the basic course mentioned above, was "Engineering Drawing" where I was introduced to my favorite program, Autodesk's Inventor. Once I was shown this program I instantly was hooked. This led to me, during my Senior year, to take "Architectural Drawing" and "Advanced Drafting." The latter is where I was introduced to 3D Max, by far the most powerful modeling program I have been introduced to. Though, to be honest, Inventor still had my heart, which without it I wouldn’t have the opportunity to lead the portion of the project I am right now. Also, during this time, I participated in a program called Robotics, where my school was the first to do so in not only my school but the entire area.
I also now watch my 12-year-old niece learning to use engineering design in real life situations in her middle school by taking classes like "Inventions and Innovations". She is also helping out with the Robotics divisions just as I did. I get the great pleasure of now seeing her come home with that same spark that was created in my heart and listening to her passion behind these courses.
I hope now you can understand that these aren't just simple courses for students to take. In fact, they represent eye opening and life changing experiences that can't be withheld from the coming generations. So I write this letter in hopes that you understand the importance of engineering in technology education courses. These programs forever changed my life and has the ability to change countless more. The coming generations depend on it. Thank you very much for your time.
Robert J. Hughes