Nease Students to Work on Real Homes; Architectural and Engineering Courses Are Being Taught at Its Academy

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Byline: CHRISTINA ABEL

Based on lectures from professional civil, electrical, structural and mechanical engineers and architects, Nease High engineering students will be designing single-family homes this year that could be built on prescribed budgets and amounts of land.

Just in its second year, the school's engineering academy, which is taught by a Jacksonville engineers and other pros, has become so popular some students have been turned away because of too-few computers.

The Stellar architectural and engineering firm in Jacksonville joined Nease in starting the academy last year and this year is sponsoring the newly renamed Stellar Academy of Engineering. A one-year contract, approved by the St. Johns County School Board, enabled Nease to add three more courses taught by a Stellar engineer for a total of four classes.

Jay Steele, the school district's director of career education, said the response in the first year of the program was "overwhelming." He said Stellar and school district managers sat down and decided the program had to be expanded. Stellar donated the teacher and the district gave them the naming rights for the school.

Allison Korman, Stellar's director of community affairs, said this year, they initially had 32 students per class but had to cut it down to 28 because each student needs a computer.

She said the program this year is also more comprehensive, with more field trips and in-class presentations by Stellar architects and engineers.

"Students will get opened up to the entire world of construction," said Korman. "It exposes them to options other than engineering."

The academy is a specialized program that aims to prepare students for college and careers in the high-wage, high-skill field of mechanical engineering.

A new state law requires all ninth-graders to choose a major this year, and all high schools in St. Johns County have academies that offer concentrated study in specific careers. …