Dayton, OH- Sinclair College’s Engineering students learn STEM principles through an innovative Guitar Lab program that teaches students how to build their own custom electric guitars. The College’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program incorporates guitar-manufacturing classes in the curriculum to engage more students in science, technology, math and engineering (STEM). These elective classes help students gain hands-on training in product manufacturing while learning the mathematics and science behind building a guitar’s hardware, including installing fretboards and tuner pegs.
The STEM Guitar Project was developed in 2007 when Sinclair Professor Thomas Singer and his co-instructor Mike Aikens from Butler County Community College in Butler, Pennsylvania decided to implement the STEM Guitar curriculum into their own classrooms. This began more than a decade long partnership that now exists between Sinclair College, Butler County Community College in Pennsylvania, College of the Redwoods in California, Purdue University in Indiana and Ventura College in California.
In the year 2009, the project received a National Science Foundation grant to train college faculty and high-school teachers nationwide to incorporate the STEM-Guitar curriculum into their classrooms.
“Hands-on learning is an extremely important avenue that some students must take,” said Thomas Singer, Sinclair College Mechanical Engineering Technology Professor. “This program was designed with a focus on STEM education and how it relates to the design and manufacturing of guitars. Students who take these classes will learn how products are made and how tools are used. The STEM Guitar curriculum is now taught across 47 states—from Maine to California, Canada, Columbia, and Australia.”
Through the STEM Guitar Project, Sinclair College supplies guitar kits to high schools, career technical centers, home schools, summer camps and colleges that have implemented the STEM guitar curriculum. The kits include manufacturing parts and all other supporting material that students need to build customized electric guitars. Since 2009, approximately 8,000 Guitar Kits have been produced at the Sinclair Community College Guitar Lab.
“This program is truly great,” said Ethan Kern, a Sinclair student enrolled in the Mechanical Engineering Technology degree program. “We get to build guitars and learn the physics and math behind what it takes to build a guitar from scratch. It does not feel like a class because you are truly enjoying the process. By the end of the program, I get to take home an actual guitar that I made and put all of my hard work into.”