From left, PGED members Kaileigh Morris, Emma Deitering, Eli Stall and JordanGuthrie ready coasters for shipment. (Putnam Sentinel/Anne Coburn-Griffis)
From left, PGED members Kaileigh Morris, Emma Deitering, Eli Stall and JordanGuthrie ready coasters for shipment. (Putnam Sentinel/Anne Coburn-Griffis)
PANDORA — Most high schools offer a variety of clubs to engage student interest. As of last year, students in Pandora-Gilboa High School’s P-G Engineering Design (PGED) club serve the community through design and innovation.
 
“The program began a year ago exactly,” said Jessica Klass, the club’s director and supervisor. “We got more equipment and there was more drive to do real-world projects.”

Twenty students from ninth through 12th grade became volunteers for the club program during School Year 2014-2015. This year, 24 students are involved. Officers were elected, but the election process was treated as it was in a real-world setting. Klass said candidates were interviewed by people that she had contact with who have engineering backgrounds.

Once officers were in place, club members chose products to produce. Etched glasses were some of the first salable items produced. But research continued into something that could be more efficiently and economically produced. That’s when PGED began making wooden coasters. The students talked about doing certain designs and emblems, but decided that personalized coasters were the way to go with each products engraved with the customer’s last name.

Within a month after announcing their new product, PGED had sold 223 sets of coasters. Klass said that to get orders done by deadline, students worked during two-hour delays and after school, sometimes until 11 p.m. This past summer, Tom Heimann, a resident at the Maple Crest Retirement Home, volunteered to cut over 800 coasters.

The club continued to market themselves and their products through their website, www.PGEdesign.com. Junior Jordan Guthrie, club secretary and public relations director, designed a business card.

Today, the classroom space dedicated to the program is organized with designated areas for user engraving, assembly and shipping. So far, the club has sold 592 coasters. Customers submit their orders online through the website and orders are “processed” during “work hours.” A student-run job board directs the business flow. Completed coasters are packaged in sets, tied with ribbon.

PGED received program funding though San-Diego based Real World Scholar. RWS first contacted Mark Suter, the director and supervisor of RocketTech, PGED’s older sibling. Rockettech, a student-run small business that offers web design and video productions to local businesses, and P-G Engineering Design were each offered $2,500 in RWS funding as well as eCommerce websites and business mentorship.

Klass said that all profits go into a club account and are distributed to a student-selected charity or to the school. “We just started that this year,” she said. “Jesse Stall (club president) suggested that it be donated to Rockettech.”

PGED is part of the national Project Lead the Way’s (PTLW) K-12 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program, but is not tied to a specific college or university. Instead, students can purchase credits or be exempted from related classes through higher learning institutions that are involved in PLTW. Sinclair Community College in Dayton and Ohio State University are included on that list.

But even before the tassel is moved to the other side of the mortar board on graduation day, PGED club members learn valuable lessons in critical thinking, efficiency and how to communicate effectively, said Klass.

“They have to mature as leaders. I don’t have to manage them,” she said. “I am stepping down so they can step up more.”

Club members have been asked to make a presentation later this year at the PLTW conference at Sinclair. For more information, Klass is eager to talk about the program, and OVERSET FOLLOWS:may be reached at pgengineeringdesign@gmail.com and 419-384-3225, ext. 281.