Engineering with Mr. Woods: PLTW and The Femineer Club


Mr. Woods is standing next to one of his various laser cutters and 3D printers that he has in his classroom. Photo Courtesy of: Jasmine Castro

Not many people know what goes on in classroom C111. Femineer members and engineering students mill in and out of Mr. Woods classroom throughout the day, making his work days average around 11 hours, well beyond the 8 hours teachers are legally contracted to work for.

The only engineering courses offered at Segerstrom High School are taught by Mr. Woods. He is also the lead club advisor for the Femineers Club, a club that encourages more females to get involved in engineering. 

Mr. Woods’s goal with the Femineer club is to “give young women the opportunity to explore engineering and computer science and to show them that they’re just as capable as anyone else.”

Mr. Woods provided information about a study he had read concerning young girls. The study found that on average young girls start deciding what they are good at and what they are not good at in 8th grade. They essentially start developing ideas of what their limitations are at this age and this leaves many young girls holding the opinion that they aren’t good at math and/or science. On the other hand, boys do not start doing this until their sophomore or junior year of high school. This gives them the possibility of doing different things and exploring what they can do. 

Mr. Woods explained that it is important to include females in engineering as “everyone is a user of technology; men, women, every diverse ethnicity. We’re all using the products our engineers produce, or the solutions our engineers design. However, the people we have in engineering don’t match the user.”

Mr. Woods also teaches six periods for PLTW (Project Lead The Way), which is an A-G approved, STEM course. 

Students “use a huge host of design software to design solutions to problems,” which include Autodesk, robotic programming software, 3D printer software, laser cutter software. For Aerospace, they use flight simulation, rocket designing software, glider designing software, and bridge design software.

The program sequence currently has three years, in which the fourth year would be taught by a SAC professor on campus.

Mr. Woods explained that “students get college credit and high school credit simultaneously” with dual enrollment. 

Mr. Woods conveyed why he believed students should get more involved in engineering, “I think it’s a really valuable opportunity for students who are interested in math and science. And the biggest value is that they don’t have to wait until college to start exploring engineering, so instead, they can do it now.”