Project Based Learning in Pre-Engineering

Posted on Categories Project-based Learning, Student Engagement

At a Glance

Pre-Engineering students at Warren County Career Center (WCCC) participate in a project based learning experience to apply what they learn in lab to a “real world” challenge.


WCCC pre-engineering instructor Dan Passmore uses a design challenge to expose all students to the current and diverse technologies available for their use in the classroom and lab. In each year of the program, students must create an LED lighting project which integrates CAD, 3D printing, Laser printing and electronics. To complete the project, students work with Mr. Passmore and collaborate with their peers to solve technical design problems as they practice their skills on the available technologies. Mr. Passmore facilitates student-to-student teaching during the project and coaches students to complete increasingly complex designs as they progress through each year of the program.

As of the 2018-2019 school year, the pre-engineering program has four printers and a laser printer. The LED lighting project takes place in the lab. Students begin at the CAD stage and print parts to assemble for the actual working light. LEDs and batteries are utilized. The stages become more complex as students advance in the program. One student created original designs for sports cars with functioning headlights, tail lights and interior lights. Another student designed his on-off switch to be activated by compressing the front wheels of the model car.

The project is funded through the classroom supply budget. Mr. Passmore expects to continue implementing the lighting project because it provides a valuable learning experience for students.


One of the key benefits of the LED lighting project is the interest and motivation it piques in students. They are not simply “going through the motions.” Rather, they are challenging themselves to learn and grow. The project requires students to link what they learn in the classroom to practical applications. The student-to-student teaching is coupled with an appropriate level of competition, which drives growth. Mr. Passmore has instilled a high level of pride in his program through this and other project based learning activities that engage students and integrate rigor and relevance.


Warren County Career Center
Dan Passmore, Pre-Engineering Instructor