Philadelphia's La Salle Academy Celebrates Successful After-School STEM Program With Local Manufacturer, Airline Hydraulics

La Salle Academy and Airline Hydraulics Celebrate the Success of Their PLC Programming Course, Igniting 7th Graders’ Interest in Engineering

Philadelphia's La Salle Academy Students Celebrate Successful After-School STEM Program

La Salle Academy, a private, independent catholic grade school in North Philadelphia, celebrates its successful partnership with Airline Hydraulics, a local manufacturing company founded 75 years ago in Philadelphia, for an educational after-school STEM program designed for 7th graders. The program, led by an Application Technology Specialist at Airline Hydraulics, gave students hands-on experience in the basics of programming industrial computer systems called Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs).

Program Highlights

The STEM program introduced students to the basic concepts of PLC programming. It began with the fundamentals of wiring and assembling electronic components and explaining the difference between DC electronics and AC power. Throughout the course, students learned how to program a traffic light intersection simulator.

Ed Brogan, the program leader, shared his excitement: "The students are wonderful. It was an enjoyable experience, especially after a long school day; we would get up and move to the application room for hands-on activities. That was the key to the class—it had to be hands-on."

The program's practical applications made complex concepts relatable to the students. In addition to the traffic light demo, they learned how to write programs to stimulate a mixer, like those used in making slushies at convenience stores. This method ensures students are learning and thoroughly engaging with the material.

Student Experiences

Students loved the program. Sherrell, a participant, said, "For me, it was really about the building. Once I figured out how to program it, it was less confusing. Mr. Brogan explained it well, and I got the hang of it."

Angel, another student, shared, "It was really great. We did programs to make a traffic light, and it was actually kind of fun. It took a lot of work, but it was worth it."

Community Impact

Michael ShackelfordPeña-Taylor II, a 7th-grade teacher at La Salle Academy, emphasized the program's importance: "This was a great experience for the class. It was a blessing that Airline Hydraulics could come in and do this for us. It helped kickstart our engineering curriculum and opened up new possibilities for our students, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds in STEM fields."

The program ended with a pizza-party celebration featuring professionals from Airline Hydraulics, who shared inspiring stories about their career paths and demonstrated the use of a 3D printer, which left the students intrigued and excited about engineering. 

Looking Forward

Due to its impact on the students, Airline Hydraulics will return to La Salle Academy for the next school year, teaching a different 15-week course to 15-30 7th-grade students. For more information about La Salle Academy and Airline Hydraulics' future programs, please visit or contact Olivia Lynch, Marketing Associate at Airline Hydraulics.

About La Salle Academy

Opened in 2003, La Salle Academy exclusively serves children from low-income families in West Kensington and Philadelphia, from grades three through eight, focusing on small class sizes and an extended school calendar. Entirely supported by donations, the school charges a nominal tuition fee and emphasizes values like Peacefulness, Responsibility, Consistency, Motivation, and Respect. 

About Airline Hydraulics

Airline Hydraulics is a leading provider of hydraulic, pneumatic, automation, and control products. With 75 years of industry expertise, they are committed to delivering innovative solutions and exceptional service to their clients.

Source: Airline Hydraulics Corporation

Related Media