Clark Student Awarded for Helicopter Camera

Laura Lacy

It appears that GCC is looking out for the futures of more than just its own students.
Two years ago, the college contributed instructors and equipment to establish a college-driven class that teaches computer-aided design (CAD) at Clark Magnet High School.

College-driven courses are classes given in high schools taken by high school students with curriculums and expectations that match that of a college course.

Clark Magnet has proven itself to be an obvious candidate for college-driven courses, such as the ones facilitated by GCC. The students and faculty of Clark have been recognized for an exemplary display of skills in science and technology since the school was converted from a middle school to a technology high school in 1998.

Clark has received numerous awards including National Blue Ribbon School (2006) and the California Distinguished School (2005). Now?it has another accomplishment to throw under its belt, and for this one, GCC had more than a little something to do with the success.

Professor Tom Ferguson of Glendale’s technology and aviation department has been teaching the CAD course at Clark for the past two years. Donations from the college that made his class more intensive include such amenities as a 3-D printer and the CAD? program called AutoDesk. The new printer allows students to take a design in 3-D and export the data to rapid prototype prints at a smaller scale straight from the computer.
“We here at GCC have supported [Clark Magnet High School’s] endeavor with grants, equipment, software and teachers,” said Ferguson. ?

This April’s annual Los Angeles County Regional Occupational Program (LACROP) Outstanding Student Recognition Program proved an example as to why GCC has taken time to help Clark Magnet. High school students all over the county were nominated by their teachers and ROP administrators for superlative displays of their abilities in whichever field the student had put their focus into.

Three students were nominated from Clark Magnet alone. One senior student from Clark, William Shaler, was nominated by Ferguson to compete in the CAD drafting category.

[Ferguson] is an amazing teacher,” said Shaler. “I learned so much so fast. He really wanted us to be motivated.”

The process to actually compete in the LACROP Outstanding Student Recognition Program is a long and strenuous one. The program is designed to prepare each nominated student for an actual job interview in the profession designated by their focus.

Each candidate had to present themselves and their student projects first to a large panel of judges in what is called a “mock interview,” and then again to a smaller panel of five. Once each ROP candidate passes through the first two interviews, demonstrates a work project, presents a resume, and completes a job application, they then move on to the competition.

“It was pretty nerve wrecking,” said Shaler about anticipating the competition. “But I wasn’t really too nervous about having a good presentation.”

The LACROP Outstanding Student Recognition Program competition consists of hundreds of students from all over the county.

“Most [competitors] just had presentations with posters or drafts, but he had this huge demonstration. Everyone was pretty amazed,” said Ferguson.

Shaler brought to the LACROP Outstanding Student Recognition Program competition an elaborately designed CAD helicopter camera attachment. The machine shop at GCC donated most of the larger parts for Shaler’s student project.

“GCC really helped [Shaler] turn his concept into reality for this student project,” said Ferguson.

Shaler developed his passion for engineering in engineering classes taught at Clark by former GCC electronics professor Luis Herrera, who passed away last year.
[Herrera] focused me into engineering,” said Shaler. “He helped me find my true calling, and it came naturally.”

Shaler had previously been part of a project instructed by Herrera that won numerous awards at the May 2009 Remotely Operated Vehicle competition in Long Beach when he was on the Catfish Team. The team built an underwater robot that won third place in the Overall Ranger class, the Grace-Under Pressure Award, and the Best Design Innovation Award.

“[Herrera] really got me to put all the things I love together and really apply those things to real life,” said Shaler. “These are real world situations. He also got me to apply to my dream school.”

Shaler will graduate from Clark this year and has been accepted to his “dream school,” Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, rated the number one aerospace and aviation college in the world.

“I think [Herrera and Ferguson] both guided me and pushed me hard enough to put me where I am today,” said Shaler.

It’s clear that the college is doing much to help Clark Magnet’s students find direction in their education and career. The courses provided to Clark Magnet by the college give students opportunities to advance and develop in ways that most high schools do not.

Although we may rarely, if never, encounter a Clark Magnet alumni attending the college, we can rest assured that the quality of education we provide is exceptional. Even if the college is providing that exceptional education somewhere other than the Glendale campus.

For more information on the Clark Magnet School Program you can contact the school at (818) 248-8324, or visit their Web site at