Week 2: The Bridges to Friendship

In the field of Civil Engineering, structure specialists study the support systems and materials which are necessary to create solid infrastructure. This week the Engineering Apprenticeship students investigated the support systems and materials which civil engineers have used to create the system of bridges and buildings in the city of Chicago.

 Architecture Boat Tour

The Engineering Apprenticeship students and I ventured outside of the class room on an architectural boat tour of Chicago. A summer storm greeted us as we made our way out onto the Chicago River, however it would take more than a rainy day to dampen the apprenticeship spirit of comradery and curiosity. The students were able to analyze many different support systems used in the bridges, historic buildings and skyscrapers which fill the City of Chicago.

As the Apprentices continued to discuss the development of lasting structures, in Character Education the students began a discussion on the meaning of friendship. True friendship is not only desiring good for another, but is also a growing together in good habits. The Engineering Apprentices’ drew many connections between building friendships and building bridges.

Support Systems

Strong support systems are not only necessary in building infrastructure, but are also necessary for developing lasting friendships. It is important to lay a solid foundation for both bridges and friendship to create something solid, lasting and beautiful.

In art, architecture and engineering, the triangle is recognized as the strongest geometric shape. After studying different bridge support systems, the Engineering Apprentices used the triangle to create the supports for their popsicle stick bridges.


In designing a structure such as a bridge, engineers must figure out the best and most affordable material for the job. If the substance of the bridge is not sustainable, then the entire support system will collapse. Likewise, for a true friendship to form it must be cultivated in a mutual striving towards virtue.





Week 1: Dignity and Solar Ovens

Metro students growing in respect for themselves, their peers and their common home

Dignity is the immutable human quality which allows us never to lose our worth and right to be respected. Embracing the dignity of every human person is written in the mission of Metro, and through interdisciplinary projects, it is woven into the experience of every student.


As engineers, students and women of the world, it is imperative that we embrace dignity in every aspect of our lives. This virtue allows us to confidently express our ideas, to listen to the opinions of our peers, and to share in a mutual respect for our environment.

“Everything is connected. Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society” (Laudato Si, 91)

This week in efforts to grow in respect for one another, we discussed the necessity of respecting and sustaining the common home which we share – our planet Earth. We took action on the topic of sustainability, and challenged the Engineering Apprenticeship students to design their very own solar ovens.

In this challenge the Engineering Apprenticeship students demonstrated the skills of resourcefulness, critical thinking, and collaboration. The solar ovens were constructed from a few simple materials such as, cardboard, aluminum foil, and black paper. The students entered into the design process with only a limited knowledge of how the materials would affect the overall outcome of the oven. Using the power of critical thinking and collaboration, every group was able to produce a successfully toasted s’more.


EAP Summer 2017: Introduction

Metro Engineering Apprenticeship

310 S Peoria ◦ Chicago, IL 60607


Welcome to Metro Summer 2017! 

Reflecting on my first week of staff training, I believe that anyone who walked into the doors of the Metro Achievement Center was subject to an overwhelming presence of joy. This energy radiated all the way to the fifth floor, where the high school apprenticeship staff was planning, organizing and preparing for the next six weeks to come.

This summer, I am working with fifteen young women in the Engineering Apprenticeship Program. This means every day I have the opportunity to design, collaborate and discuss engineering in the light of justice and service learning.

Engineering is an interdisciplinary field which incorporates technical fields of science, technology, and math with areas of art and design. Engineers must use this knowledge to efficiently solve problems every day. Well-rounded engineers not only complete their work well but also act ethically and aspire to live a life of virtue. Through Character education, Christian education, and Ethics classes, the Engineering Apprenticeship students are given the opportunity to engage in the larger discussion of what it means to live life well, to seek happiness, and to be a good engineer.

It is hard to believe that it is nearly the fourth week of program. Already the Engineering Apprenticeship students have designed and prototyped four projects, covering the disciplines of civil, environmental, and electrical engineering. As the girls continue to develop in both virtue and technical skill, this blog will serve as a bridge to bind these two foundational elements of the Metro Engineering Apprenticeship experience.


Shaelynn M. Heffernan

Engineering Apprenticeship T.A., 2017