Frequently Asked Questions
What is AoE+AM
The Academy of Engineering & Advanced Manufacturing is a small learning community within Apex Friendship High School. It is designed as a four-year program able to accommodate 75 students in each grade level cohort. Students take a sequence of engineering courses over the four years along with core academic classes with the engineering theme woven through the curriculum. In addition to the coursework, the student completes a series of work-based learning experiences. This strategy better prepares students for both college and careers.
Who is the Academy for?
Under current school board policy, only students assigned to Apex Friendship High School may apply for and be admitted into the Academy. The Academy has an open and equitable application process that results in a student body that reflects the demographics of the AFHS community. Students are not admitted into the Academy after their freshman year. Students must be on the standard course of study and should enjoy STEM and being in classes with like-minded students.
Is the Academy only for students interested in Engineering/Manufacturing?
No. While most students in the Academy are interested in STEM careers, the skills students learn in the Academy are transferable to any career field. Students develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills. They learn to apply the Engineering Design Process which is used everywhere.
What are the benefits of being enrolled in the Academy?
While there are a number of benefits to being in a career academy, here's the Top 10:
- Being part of a small learning community
- Classes grouped with like-minded peers
- Project-based learning
- Real-world applications
- Career exploration: site visits, job shadowing, mentorships
- Support from businesses and post-secondary institutions
- College & career-focused courses
- Competitive edge to college applications and resume
- Career-related internship
- 100% graduation rate
How many students typically apply to the Academy each year?
On average over 100 students apply for the 75 available seats.
Why is a lottery used?
According to school board policy, a career academy should be homogeneous to the school's student population. A lottery is the most equitable method to achieve this. Interest in STEM, grades, teacher recommendations are not a factor in admittance.
Can students take honors and AP level classes while in the Academy?
Yes. Core Academy cohort classes such as English, Science, Math are taught at the academic and honors-level depending on teacher recommendations. Teachers differentiate instruction for the academic and honors level. From 9th through 12th grade, students can take AP courses (these classes are outside the Academy cohort). Taking AP courses does not change a student's status in the Academy. A few of the Academy Engineering classes hold AP weight while other Engineering classes are taught at the honors level. The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction determines the weight of a course.
Can students take other elective courses?
Yes. While students are required to take five Engineering courses in addition to an internship, there is still room in their schedule to take other elective courses.
How should incoming freshmen register for classes?
Incoming freshmen should register for classes as if they are not in the academy. Once pulled into the program, classes will be adjusted to reflect the academy cohort classes.
Is the Academy more difficult?
No. All Academy courses follow the NC standard course of study. What's different is the integration of engineering topics into core classes, interdisciplinary teaching, and project-based learning. Work-based learning and soft skills are also a strong focus in Academy classes. Academy students have many projects that involve working in a team and giving presentations. Students are challenged to apply the knowledge and to develop skills rather than memorize information for a final assessment.
Are there any conflicts with athletics or clubs?
No. Many Academy students participate in athletics and extra-curricular clubs.
Are there any conflicts with Band or Performing Arts?
While it can be challenging trying to fit year-long Performing Arts classes into a schedule for a student in the Academy, to date, it hasn't been impossible. If a student is interested in Band or Performing Arts, we need to have open lines of communication when working on registration and scheduling.
Are there any costs associated with the Academy?
Yes. Students are required to purchase an Academy shirt to wear for presentations and for off-campus learning experiences. In addition, students must pay the expenses associated with field trips. The inability to pay will not have any impact on student participation in the Academy. Funding is available for these situations.
Can students drop out of the Academy?
We typically have a waitlist for the Academy and we don't fill spots after a cohort's freshmen year. We expect students and their family to seriously consider their decision to enroll because we expect a four-year commitment to the program.