Marian Catholic » Academics » Engineering & STEM Programs

Engineering & STEM Programs

STEM Course Offerings


Students will learn the key elements of effective problem solving and the process of the engineering design cycle. This elective course will be completely hands-on. Students will work through project modules and work toward goals with guidance and oversight by the teacher. The principal methods of teacher guidance are questioning, probing, and process-related commentary, with little to no direct instruction. Academic topics that will be covered include structural elements, static and dynamic forces, transmission of power, gears and pulleys, simple and complex machines, experimentation with drive and directional systems, the calculation of net forces, efficiency, prototyping, and much more. The course will also, by its nature, teach students real-world engineering skills such as time management, developing/testing/rejecting hypotheses, and overall project management.

Engineering II Honors is the second year course in the Engineering Honors program. Students will continue to expand their engineer’s perspective of effective problem solving and engineering design while gaining new skills with the introduction of 3D CAD software, fabrication with rapid prototyping, and preliminary development of an advanced project that will carry over to Engineering III Honors. The course will be completely hands-on. Students will work through project modules and work toward goals with guidance and oversight by the teacher. The principal methods of teacher guidance are questioning, probing, and process-related commentary, with little or no direct instruction. 

Engineering III Honors is the third year of the Engineering Honors program. Students will formalize their engineering habits of mind and engineer’s perspective of effective problem solving and engineering design, hone their CAD skills and improve parts design and fabrication processes, finalize mechanical performance of their small form factor robot, and experience an in-depth immersion into the world of data acquisition and processing related to robot control, both human-operated and embedded. 


This course is an introduction to designing, creating, and maintaining web pages and websites. Students will access, evaluate, and analyze World Wide Web sites to grasp the elements of successful web page design. HTML/CSS codes are used, as in Adobe Dreamweaver, to create and produce web pages that demonstrate good elements of design and build professional-looking websites. Students will have opportunities for creative self-expression within the confines of effective design principles and ethical limitations.
This course is an introduction to IOS development using Swift, Apple’s programming language. Students will learn the basics of the Swift programming languages such as variables, types, control structures, and basic interfaces as they work with the XCode, Apple’s integrated development environment.

Computer Science Advanced Placement is an object-oriented programming methodology with an emphasis on problem-solving and algorithm development. It includes the study of data structures, abstraction, object-oriented program design, program analysis, algorithms, and computing in context.

Computer Science Principles Advanced Placement introduces students to the essential ideas of Computer Science and helps them to understand how computing and technology can influence the world around them. As part of this course, students will be exposed to a broad range of computing tools and skills while creatively addressing real-world issues and concerns.


This course is designed for students interested in life sciences or the allied health professions. The major emphasis is on anatomy with minor emphasis on physiology. Cat dissection and other dissections are required. There is an optional field trip to view human dissection. 
This course is a hands-on elective lab science course for juniors or seniors who have successfully completed biology and either physical science, physics or chemistry. The major emphasis is on Anatomy with minimal physiology. The technique of dissection will be employed, as dissection will be a requirement for this course.
This course is a multi-dimensional, technology-oriented course emphasizing Internet-related telecomputing projects, multimedia presentations, laboratory experiences, and one field trip per semester. The course focuses on contemporary ecological and environmental problems, issues, and concepts, and their relationship to the "quality of life" on our planet.

Students will spend time studying plants, plant physiology, and plant anatomy. Students will also deal with animals, the phyla, and Comparative Zoology. Dissection is required.

This course is an integrative survey of modern forensic science, including both investigative techniques and the civic implications of crime science assessment. Students will apply their theoretical knowledge by analyzing actual cases, practicing modern forensic investigation techniques and solving simulated crimes. A cumulative project involving a crime scene assessment will be required of all participants. 

This elective lab course is held only during summer school. This course introduces a student to the world of astronomy through the hands-on exploration utilizing physics, chemistry, mathematics, and computer technology. Topics to be explored include scale of our solar system and the universe, composition of stellar bodies, gravitational wonders such as black holes, and the technology used to explore our universe.



Innovating STEM Education

The transformation of Room 311 began in the spring of 2016 when Principal Steve Tortorello recognized a need to advance the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) curriculum at Marian Catholic. Given the predicted increase in STEM-related careers, Principal Tortorello wanted to make sure students had the opportunity to train in STEM-related disciplines – coding, engineering, computer-assisted design (CAD), and robotics. After consulting with education experts, including Dr. Matt Kloser, Director of the Center for STEM Education at the University of Notre Dame, Tortorello assembled a team of faculty and staff to forge a plan for the future.
Room 311 had long served as a computer lab at Marian Catholic, but with the conversion to iPads in 2014, utilization of the room diminished drastically. Many students no longer needed a dedicated place to type and print papers since they were directly submitting their work to teachers electronically. The dormant resource room was ideally situated for repurposing as the school’s new STEM lab.
Fast forward to 2018 and Room 311 is anything but dormant. Home to Marian Catholic’s engineering program, the room is “brimming with stuff” as Tortorello describes it. New tables, computer monitors, 3-D printers and a laser cutter afford students the opportunity to design and create.
In the first year of the program, as sophomores, students are taught the fundamentals of design and introductory mechanics. During the first semester, they build a miniaturized ski lift using any of the materials available in the lab. As juniors, students receive an introduction to computer-aided design and discover how to take an idea they have formulated in their mind and bring it to fruition. They learn how to use 3-D printers to manufacture their own components so they can build bigger, better things. Seniors are exposed to electronics and programming, with the end goal of building a remote-controlled search and rescue robot.
In the end, the students gain valuable skills in problem-solving, design, critical thinking, time management, collaboration, and even writing (students have to submit a technical paper with every major project). Their exposure to a variety of engineering topics – mechanical, civil, electrical, software – and an understanding of the design cycle, prepares them for any college engineering major.
Students can often be found in the STEM lab at Zero Hour (6:55 a.m.) anxious to see how their 3-D print design came out. Did it turn out the way they expected? What changes do they need to make in class? Perhaps it is not just Room 311 that has been transformed.