At CPS King College Prep, principal David Narain, EdD Urban Education Leadership ’13, aims to expand the career options his students are considering, for study in college and in the field after school.  A new engineering partnership with King and HNTB, a Chicago-based infrastructure firm, will expand the focus on career options from classroom discussion to a hands-on approach to learning engineering.

The partnership, a project of the Office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, will transform King’s engineering curriculum, which previously consisted of one or two class sections for the school’s student body of 700.

“If you were able to do something like this in the classroom, it would all be in hypotheticals, Narain said. “Our kids will be out in the field, visiting sites, forming project teams, getting a feel for what it’s like to be an engineer.”

The initial plans for the partnership call for King students to join HNTB in their renovations of elevated train platforms in the Chicago Loop.  The project brings additional benefits in providing access to learning opportunities with the Chicago Transit Authority and the Illinois Department of Transportation, which operates the Loop platforms.

HNTB engineers will develop mentor relationships with King students, providing guidance on pathways in education to pursuing an engineering career, starting conversations about obstacles towards such a career and lending a voice of guidance.

“From a leadership angle, it’s all about bringing these parties together and trying to coordinate what each involved party doesn’t know about the other,” Narain said. “We want to make sure teachers in the classroom are involved, but at the same time, we need to ensure they are not being asked to do extra work without some kind of added benefit to their curriculum and instruction.”