Why Electronics Design Should Be an Elective or Extracurricular Option
When we think about how to help kids get the most out of their education today, there are plenty of factors to consider. We think about time management and study habits, how to navigate different kinds of coursework, when to use a tutor or do certain kinds of test preparation, and now even how to go about remote learning. Aside from all of this though, there is also something to be said for considering the actual subjects kids have access to throughout their schooling.
This is by no means a suggestion that we should do away with traditional subjects. It is, however, increasingly apparent that our school system could stand to be modernized with regard to subject material. Not all that much has been done to adapt to the digital world we now live in, and there is a risk that newly vital skills and subjects are not being addressed by older curriculums.
An EdWeek article on modernizing education essentially agreed with this line of thinking, and presented a handful of specific topics that need to be covered more thoroughly — such as entrepreneurship, wellness, and social sciences. We might throw in topics like media literacy and digital security as well. But in this post we want to delve into another subject brought up in the EdWeek place: engineering, and in this case electrical engineering specifically.
There are a number of reasons for electronics design to be infused into more schools and systems as an elective or extracurricular option for kids.
It’s an Interesting “Extra”
We’ve talked about ‘How to Get the Most Out of Your Academic Time’ before, and in doing so mentioned the importance of including extracurricular activities in a calendar. We do see these as part of the total educational process, and would generally encourage students to pursue them. What will be healthiest for our school system long term, however, is if we stop thinking of extracurricular solely as sports, drama, music, and art. As wonderful as activity in all of those areas can be, students should ideally have more opportunities to pursue specific interests.
Electronics design and electrical engineering are among the activities that would likely prove to be interesting alternatives to many kids — and that’s what the consideration should look like. School leaders should think about what might really grab kids’ attention and strive to expand elective and extracurricular options accordingly. And in our increasingly digital age, it’s easy to imagine a lot of kids getting excited about learning how to build circuit boards and program their own electronics.
Real Tech is Accessible
One potential issue with a subject such as this that demands practical application is that schools don’t have the necessary resources. After all, at least in the short term it is all but unrealistic to expect many schools to be able to ramp up their budgets and secure materials for designing circuits in person (though some physics departments will already have some such materials). With this in mind though, it is important to note that much of the electronics design process is now digital — and much of the relevant tech is completely accessible.
Looking through the downloadable programs on Altium, you can quickly see that there is affordable software available that can teach and facilitate electronic engineering. The programs just alluded to specifically represent cutting-edge printed circuit board creation, which is about the most fundamental skill in modern electronics design. Through this or similar software, an instructor can learn the basics and help a class of interested students to progress toward being able to piece together their own functioning electronics from scratch. That’s quite a lot of benefit for a low price, and makes this a feasible extracurricular option even for schools with tight budgets.
Expansive Real-World Possibility
One reason that the topic of modernizing school curriculums is becoming more prevalent is that students need to be prepared to pursue work in modern job markets. And in this regard too, electronics design should be considered strongly. For reference, a MarketWatch piece on electrical engineering services stated earlier this year that this market has been “witnessing unprecedented growth” of late, on the back of increasing demand for tech in service industries.
This is not to say that that trend will always continue, nor that learning electrical engineering fundamentals necessarily leads to work in technology for service industries. The point stands, however, that in today’s world capable electronics designers and engineers tend to be in demand. Thus, students with the freedom to pursue this interest early can get a head start toward an exciting job market full of opportunity.
Ultimately, there are again many potential subjects and electives that could help to modernize our children’s educational options. But for the reasons stated here, we see electronics design as one that should be considered strongly.