Orange High Engineering and Design Academy

Starting in the 2019-2020 school year, Orange High will launch an Engineering and Design Academy, the first of its kind in the Orange County Schools district.

Orange High School students will soon have access to state of the art engineering technology and education.

Starting in the 2019-2020 school year, Orange High will launch an Engineering and Design Academy, the first of its kind in the Orange County Schools district.

The academy, offered to incoming freshmen, will be a school within a school, where students will be enrolled at Orange but graduate with an advanced knowledge of engineering. The program is inspired by the Apex Friendship High School Academy of Engineering, which was launched in 2015. 

Fifty-five students will be selected to attend the academy each year, after taking part in the application process. The academy has no academic requirements or barriers for incoming students and the application requires only a few short written responses and two teacher recommendations. 

Students selected will take part in a multitude of classes to teach them the critical thinking skills needed for engineering. Students in the academy will be able to take normal classes with other Orange students each semester, but they will also take classes geared towards their engineering education. 

Academy students will take the pre-existing Project Lead the Way (PLTW) engineering classes and courses “cohorted” with other Academy students, in which classes like English, math, and social sciences will be taught with engineering principles. 

This means that students in the academy can still take part in popular Orange High courses such as band or agriculture classes, while also taking classes that teach skills in computer programming, 3D modeling, and computational thinking. 

“[The goal] is to create an engineering community of problem solvers that will help the students be more prepared for the job market and universities when they graduate,” said Eric McBurnett, Orange Engineering instructor.

The academy isn’t solely marketed for students who want to pursue engineering as a career. 

“We’re not planning on all these kids going into engineering, but this kind of problem-solving mindset is helpful regardless of what college or career you want to go into,” explained Erin Denniston, Orange County Schools District STEM Facilitator. “That’s why we’re doing this. We’re not just looking for super talented engineering students, we’re looking at how many kids can we impact even if they choose to go someplace else.”

The academy also serves as a way for students to gauge interest in the field of engineering by way of job shadowing and internships.

With these opportunities, students will have the ability to practice skills taught in the classroom and gain hands-on “real-life” experience to see what career path is right for them.

An informational meeting will be held at Orange High on Dec. 12 at 6 p.m for any students or parents interested. The meeting will highlight benefits of the academy and cover the application process. 

The academy will begin accepting applications Dec. 1, 2018, and has set a final application deadline for the 2019-20 school year on is Jan. 31, 2019. 

The application can be found at