Impact of an Engineering Case Study in a High School Pre-Engineering Course

  • Eugene Rutz
  • Michelle Shafer


Students at an all-girls high school who were enrolled in an introduction to engineering course were presented an engineering case study to determine if the case study affected their attitudes toward engineering and their abilities to solve engineering problems. A case study on power plants was implemented during a unit on electrical engineering. Pre- and post-surveys were administered to evaluate changes in attitude, perceptions, and abilities. Students were provided a tour of a power plant, performed individual and group research, and worked in teams to develop a solution to a problem faced at a power plant. The groups made presentations defending their choices and provided written reports. These students showed improvement in development of cognitive skills as a result of the case study. Students also reported improvements in their attitudes toward engineering and small gains in team working skills. The case study provided a realistic example of the practice of engineering and enabled students to make informed choices regarding their continuation in the study of engineering and technology programs in college. High school students demonstrated an appreciation for this method of learning and indicated that the approach was beneficial in understanding the subject matter and developing teamwork, problem solving and communication skills.