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Accompanying all the new and returning students to both campuses this fall are several new Pingry faculty and staff. 

In My Own Words, Big Blue Summer Edition: Alesia Paliwoda '21

In partnership with Big Blue Summer Academics, Alesia is the first Pingry student to offer not one but two virtual courses of her own design this summer. Her Introduction to Architecture course will run from July 6-10, while Introduction to Engineering will run from August 10-14, both from 9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. In similar fashion, fellow rising seniors Claire Kelly, Caeley Feeney, and Elisabeth Korn will offer rising K-Grade 5 students a Summer Reading Enrichment program. For more information on all these student-led courses, and to register, visit Read on to learn more about Alesia's offerings!


By Alesia Paliwoda '21

The idea of creating a summer course came up when I was talking recently with [Director of College Counseling] Mr. Lear. He suggested I reach out to Mrs. McArthur, Director of Summer and Auxiliary Programs, who runs Pingry's Big Blue Summer program. She was excited about the two ideas I suggested—Introduction to Architecture and Introduction to Engineering virtual courses—so I began planning out the curriculums, designing the activities, and contacting guest speakers. The courses are open to rising Form I-IV students (Grades 7-10) as well as students outside of Pingry. I am thankful for this opportunity and excited to share my knowledge with underclassmen!

I am interested in both architecture and engineering. I have always enjoyed building and creating with my hands, from building Lego sets and forts to creating art and making pencil boxes. I combined my love of design, building, and hands-on work when I started doing robotics outside of school in sixth grade. In Grade 7, I joined the Pingry Middle School Science Olympiad Team and placed third for the Bottle Rocket event at the State Championships. Over the last six years, I have been involved in five different levels of VEX and FIRST robotics competitions, competed at two World Championships, and won numerous awards. I have really enjoyed sharing my love and knowledge of robotics and engineering with others by participating in outreach events, mentoring Pingry's Middle School Robotics Team, and by forming and mentoring an FLL (FIRST Lego League) robotics team for students in Grades 4-8. I have taken various programs in design, robotics, and engineering over many summers, and attended engineering classes at the University of Michigan over Spring Break last year.

At Pingry, I wanted to continue pursuing my interest in art, but was not interested in working with certain materials. The aspect of precision in architecture appealed to me, and I decided to take Architecture, Drafting, & Design I as my sophomore-year elective class. I really enjoyed the class and took Architecture, Drafting, & Design II the following year. Both classes were taught by Ms. Boone. In those classes, I learned the basics of Adobe Photoshop and how to use Rhino and SketchUp. I also learned how to use various architectural tools and make 3D models of my sketches. I found that architecture classes were my break from a rigorous academic schedule, during which I could enjoy making artwork with my hands and exploring something new. These classes gave me experience and exposure that has increased my interest in architecture and has led me to go on various architecture tours and consider pursuing it further, potentially in college.

The Introduction to Architecture summer course will give students an overview of the field and what architects do. In the course, students will complete multiple projects, including sketching and building a sculpture, designing and sketching a playground, and sketching their own home from various views (front, side, top). Each day will begin with a Google Meet session, lasting for an hour at most, where I will introduce the project for the day and showcase some of the work I have completed in my architecture classes that relate to the assigned projects. The multiple Google Meets will be interactive and engaging—students will not be listening to a lecture the whole time. Then, students will be given studio time to complete the projects on their own or with another student. I will be on the Google Meet during that time, working on the project myself and broadcasting it for students to see my work, if needed. There will also be individual check-ins throughout the morning, where I will give advice and feedback to students on their progress. At the end of the time, we will re-group and present our work. There will also be a wrap-up for the day. The projects are meant to take longer and give students enough time to utilize the design process. My goal is for students to walk away with completed projects and work they will want to hold onto and display. Students will also have the opportunity to speak with professional architects! One of the guest speakers is an architect from London, who has done work for the FIFA World Cup, Olympic stadiums, and nine NFL Super Bowls.

I wish there was a program like this when I was deciding which courses to take. I hope students will walk away from the course with a good understanding of what they can learn in a more in-depth architecture class and help them decide if they want to take one in the future. Regardless, students will learn and implement the design process using technical and creative skills of architecture.

The Introduction to Engineering program will give students an overview of the different fields of engineering, including mechanical, civil, industrial and operations, and aerospace engineering. Students will complete various activities that relate to the different fields. Each day will have a focus on one or two fields. Some of the activities will include building a tower that can withstand an earthquake, constructing a bridge that can hold up a book, and building a solar race car. Students will also try to spot the International Space Station! They will use the engineering process and problem solving to complete these hands-on activities, challenges, and projects. I will also give a quick overview of different robotics competitions students can be involved in as Middle or Upper Schoolers.

In addition to activities, students will have the opportunity to speak with engineers from different backgrounds. They will get a better understanding of what engineering is and what an engineer does. My goal is for students to see how diverse engineering is and for them to get a glimpse of the different paths you can take within the field.

These programs provide a great opportunity to sample architecture and engineering and learn something new! I am really excited to share my knowledge and passion in these areas. I have learned so much myself from robotics, summer programs, and classes, and I am excited to give back to Pingry. I am also excited to hear from the guest speakers—they work on some really cool projects! I look forward to teaching others about my interests and look forward to working with the students.

Register for Alesia's Introduction to Architecture course
Register for Alesia's Introduction to Engineering course

Contact: Andrea Dawson, Senior Writer,