Presque Isle Tech Center engineering technology program prepares students for college and careers

2 years ago

Rachel Ring attended the engineering technology program at Presque Isle Tech Center five years ago during her senior year at Caribou High School. At a young age, she developed an interest in design. “I’ve been in love with designing homes since I was 8 years old. I spent much of my free time drawing floor plans for these imaginative families that I created.”

When her family was building their home, her father used a computer program to design their home in 3D. He showed Ring how he used the program to create their house. “My creative mind could see the endless possibilities of the program and how I could use it to make my 2D drawing come to life,” said Ring, “so I taught myself how to use the program.” 

While in high school, Ring learned about engineering technology at PITC and decided to attend since the program aligned with her interests. While in the program, Ring learned a variety of skills. “I learned how to use Revit and Solidworks, as well as other Computer Aided Drafting programs. I also got to advance my skills in creating presentations and presenting, and taking good notes,” said Ring. Ring also participated in SkillsUSA, a national organization dedicated to promoting trade and technical skills and job readiness. “We had to learn how to be professional and work in both small and large teams.” 

Attending the ET program prepared Ringl for her future. “Being introduced to CAD programs in high school prepared me for the types of CAD programs that I would be using throughout most of my college education and into my future career.” She also enjoyed the freedom to pursue her interests in the classroom. “I loved homes, and Revit was my favorite thing to focus on during class. Mr. Harper let me tailor my education to that while also guiding me in projects,” Ring said. 

In May Ring completed her final semester at Cedarville University with a major in industrial and innovative design and a Bible minor and studio art minor. She is employed at Musser Home Builders in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania where she is an assistant designer, designing new homes and home remodels. 

Terry Harper has taught engineering technology at PITC for nearly 10 years. Harper has over 30 years of experience working in engineering and design including civil, architecture and environmental engineering. “The last 14 of those years, I was a consultant in the heavy civil construction industry working on a variety of projects that included bridges, tunnels, water treatment facilities and other large infrastructure projects,” stated Harper.

In the ET program, Harper and his students discuss what engineers do, the different types of engineering, and the design process engineers use to solve problems. “It’s all about introducing the students to engineering and developing skill sets that will open career and educational opportunities,” said Harper. 

Students also learn technical skills using design software that is standard throughout the architecture and engineering industry such as Solidworks, Revit, Civil 3D, Infraworks and Fusion 360. “Engineering is the application of science, math and technology to solve problems. We use a lot of different cutting edge technologies such as 3D modeling and design software to transform abstract ideas into real solutions,” Harper said. “We also use that software to interface with other technologies such as 3D printing and CNC manufacturing to fabricate prototypes and mockups as well as develop design documents that can clearly communicate our solutions.” 

Engineering technology at PITC is the only high school program in the state of Maine that offers both high school and college credits through the University of Maine College of Engineering. Several students who have completed the ET program have pursued engineering at post-secondary institutions such as the University of Maine College of Engineering, Maine Maritime Academy, and Wentworth Institute of Technology. Former students have become mechanical, electrical, chemical, biomedical, civil, or power engineers, as well as industrial designers.

Harper is very passionate about engineering and teaching. “I enjoy sharing my knowledge, experience, and technical skills with my students to help them find a potential career path,” Harper said, “but I really enjoy those moments when a student solves a complex problem and experiences that amazing sense of accomplishment and pride.”

If you have a passion for creating, designing, solving problems, or helping others, Ring highly recommends taking the ET program. “Take Mr. Harper’s class! You get to learn so much about your industry, but you also get to learn about similar industries without having to make any sort of commitment in those areas.” Ring adds, “I got a jump-start on my career and learned more about what it meant to design.”

Harper states, “If a student has any interest in engineering or architecture, then they need to be in this program.”

The Presque Isle Tech Center serves high school students in the Central Aroostook area including Presque Isle, Caribou, Fort Fairfield, Easton, Washburn, Ashland, and Mars Hill. For more information about the program or any of the programs at the PITC, please contact 207-764-1356 or visit