Everyday Heroes: An engineer’s passion

Dr. Andrew Heintz teaches Introduction to Basic Concepts in Engineering.

Getting kids excited about learning can be a tough challenge, but it’s one Intel engineer Dr. Andrew Heintz is more than ready to tackle.

Dr. Heintz offers an extracurricular class at Sunset High School called Introduction to Basic Concepts in Engineering.

It’s not worth any credits, and taking it means coming back to the classroom after six in the evening.

And yet, for the second year in a row, the class is at or near capacity. According to his students, you can give Heintz credit for that.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” sophomore Jackson Peden told KATU. “We’ve done some cool labs and it’s just cool looking at all the different kinds of engineerings.”

“This is class is not just a typical ‘get kids interested in engineering’ program,” Heintz said. “We also take it a step farther.”

Dr. Heintz said the course prepares students to tackle the first couple years of college in an engineering major.

“I felt that there was a big gap that I personally had going from high school to college,” Heintz said. “And I felt that there were some things that I could help address.”

Specifically, the course helps prepare kids for how difficult engineering curricula can be, and gives them a good idea of what the different fields of engineering are.

To that end, Dr. Heintz invites guest speakers to come talk about their profession. When KATU sat in on the class, industrial engineer Amy Hertig came by to explain her job at Intel and the processes and procedures she uses.

A Passion Project

Dr. Heintz doesn’t get paid to teach this class. He’s not even licensed through the school district; he just wants to teach kids.

“I just enjoy doing this,” Heintz said. “I guess I can’t really tell you why I enjoy doing it, I just enjoy doing it.”

Six years ago, he started developing his own curriculum. Since then, he’s written a textbook for students to use, and spent his own money to purchase supplies for the lab.

He approached the principal at his alma mater (Sunset) about the project, and last year found his first class of students ready to learn.

“At the end of the semester if we even get one kid who decides they want to go do engineering for real and sticks with it, then I think that’s a win,” Heintz said.

The course costs each student $45 (to recoup the cost of materials). But Heintz offers his own need-based scholarships to students, so money, he said, is never a barrier to getting into his class.

He added that even though Intel isn’t sponsoring his class, the company does have a matching program that donates money to Sunset for every hour Heintz donates to teaching.

Heintz hopes he can eventually expand this class, and maybe offer it at another high school. If you’re interested in learning more about the class, you can visit the Facebook page here.

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