In the Marianist spirit of adaptation and change, Archbishop Riordan High School is always looking for new approaches to curriculum that provide innovative ways to challenge our students. Given Riordan’s location in the Bay Area near major engineering and technology companies, our students have a natural exposure to the many career opportunities and practical applications of engineering. This interest plus Riordan’s existing strong math and science curriculum led Riordan to create a four-year honors engineering program with a focus on computer engineering, fabrication and design. Each year students will take classes to build skills across multiple disciplines, with the goal that by their senior year, they will graduate as proficient programmers, engineers, designers, collaborators, and problem solvers.
The Engineering Program is a highly challenging academic program fit for a mature student. Admission will be based on 7th and 8th grade math and science grades, performance on standardized tests, demonstrated ability to handle a rigorous course load, and demonstrated interest in the area of engineering. In addition to two engineering courses a student will take each year, it is expected that students take advanced math and science courses that complement the engineering offerings and prepare them for a college-level engineering major.
The following section provides an overview of the courses that students will take over four years, with a scope and sequence to provide maximum curriculum alignment. In the first year students take an introductory engineering course which gives an overview of both the practical and theoretical aspects of engineering. Concurrently they are also enrolled in Intro to Computer Programming which provides a strong technical foundation for the courses they will be taking their sophomore through senior years. Please note that as the program advances, modifications may be made to this course sequence.
Computer Programming 1: App Dev w/Swift
In this class students learn the fundamentals of programming, while making apps for iPhones and iPads, using Apple’s new Swift programming language. Initially students start in a more simple environment (Processing / p5) to get the basics, move onto Swift challenges, and then start making apps.
In this class students will focus on electrical and mechanical engineering, though there will also be some programming in the robotics portion. The first portion of the class focuses more on mechanical engineering, specifically CAD (Computer-Aided Design) with Tinkercad and Fusion 360. Around the holidays we will shift focus to robotics which will add a lot of electrical engineering and programming for physical products.
Students will continue tinkering in the Makerspace, delving deeper into fabrication and electronics, while completing more open ended projects. For electronics they will move up from Arduino microcontrollers to the Raspberry Pi microprocessor, and they will try their hand at fancy tools like Oscilloscopes. On the fabrication side they will dive into the design thinking process and industrial design principles while taking on the biggest machine in the shop, the Tormach (CNC mill)!
This class takes students’ professional programming skills to the next level, as they become full stack web developers. They will tackle the client-server relationship, which in this case is how browsers and apps interact with web servers. They will leave able to create simple websites, blogs, and all out web apps like Facebook or Airbnb.
AP Computer Science with Java and Android Dev
This class is a combination of an AP Computer Science course, and an Android app development course. Both use the same language, Java and while the students will already know most of the concepts from other languages, we will dive deeper into computer science topics like algorithms and optimization.
Computer Programming 3: Game Dev with Unity
Games provide a unique opportunity for young programmers, since games are both fun and engaging, and they are made up of incredibly complex digital assets and programming logic. This class takes students on a journey that challenges them to draw on all they know about technology, and craft one of their favorite things: a game. Students will start with simple 2D game development, and move up to the professional and wildly popular Unity Game Engine.
Advanced Computer Science w/AI
Computer programming is somewhat distinct from computer science, which is the theory underlying programming convention. While most of our classes teach students to be professional developers, rather than theorists, this class is devoted to the theory. It is similar to first year college computer science courses, except that those courses assume many of the students won’t even know how to program yet.
School Year Final Project
Students will be able to explore an industry-level capstone project or internship during their final year to gain real world experience.
How do I apply to the Engineering Program?
In addition to Riordan’s regular application requirements, students must submit a brief essay that details their interest in the Engineering Program. You will submit this when you complete Riordan’s online application.
Please note if you an international student interested in applying to the Engineering Program, the SSAT is required.
What are the requirements for the program?
Other than what is noted above about the application process, there are no specific requirements to apply to the Engineering Program. When accepting students, the Admissions Committee looks at a student’s proven ability to handle a rigorous academic course load, 7th and 8th grade math and science grades, and demonstrated interest in the field of engineering. Typically the school admits 18-20 students to the program each year.