William Wakely is a 10th grade homeschool student who lives in Virginia. He took both the CEA 100 and CEA 300 courses during the 2014-2015 school year. William and his parents shared the following information with us in an interview on May 13, 2015. William modeled a steam engine in SolidWorks — shown above — for his Reverse Engineering assignment in CEA 100.
Catapult: What led you to take a high school engineering course?
William: I’ve been interested in engineering and electrical systems since the age of 6. I ultimately would like to work at NASA.
Catapult: How did you find out about Catapult?
Parents: A home school friend forwarded an email from another home school friend.
Catapult: What were your favorite things about Catapult EA?
William: I liked learning new skills and being able to expand what I know. I also enjoyed the SolidWorks assignments, getting to build things on the computer and having hands-on parts to the assignments, like using a micrometer to measure.
Catapult: How have you used the course material outside the course?
William: I used what I learned about solid modeling to design parts for the robot that my robotics club built. I was the main SolidWorks modeler, and the parts I designed were then produced in a 3D printer.
Catapult: How have these courses been different than other online courses you have taken?
William: Both of these courses were more in-depth and more hands-on. Also when I ran into issues, the communication with my Teaching Assistant was so much better.
Parents: We were pleased with the Teaching Assistant’s willingness to communicate with William and us — and with the way that she encouraged William.
Catapult: How quickly did William start to take ownership in the course and really begin to grasp the material?
Parents: With SolidWorks it was very quickly. William lit up and was on fire with enthusiasm to learn. We are delighted he has found a medium with which he can effectively communicate his design ideas in a quantifiable way.
William: Within a few lessons I became inspired and enthusiastic.
Catapult: What was the most challenging aspect of the courses?
William: The set timeframes and deadlines were challenging. This is the first course I’ve taken with hard deadlines.
Parents: The deadlines. However, it is good for the students to learn about deadlines, since they exist in real life.
William: For the CEA300 course, we had to make screencasts explaining the work that we did. In the guidelines for the screencasts, we had a certain time limit. I struggled to fit all of the information into that given time frame. You might consider giving the students a little more time to fit the information.
Parents: Some of the videos are longer and cover a lot of information. You might consider adding some sort of guide so the students can follow along easier.
Catapult: What are the strengths/weaknesses of the program?
Parents: The strengths include having well-organized courses with a clear plan and vision. The grade and assignment communication with parents was lacking. We needed to know more about the assignments and due dates.
Catapult: When you signed up for courses, what additional information would have been helpful?
Parents: We would like to have known more about the prerequisite courses, the progression of courses and what was in store as far as future courses.
Catapult: What is your level of satisfaction with Catapult Engineering Academy?
All: Absolutely thrilled!
Parents: We are happy for the challenging nature of the courses. This is something that is hard to provide when the parent is the teacher. The level of challenge allows students to appreciate the rewards for hard work. We felt that the courses were challenging but well balanced.
William: The courses were difficult but not overwhelming. They are definitely doable.
Catapult: How likely are you to recommend Catapult’s engineering courses?
Parents: We are already recommending them. We love that these courses inspire and enable students to achieve their dreams.
(Pictured: A screenshot of William’s Reverse Engineering Project – a Steam Engine – done in SolidWorks)