New teacher helps students build passion for engineering


Gwen McDougall

Applied Arts and Technology teacher Ralph Arabian uses his tools in class on Thursday, Nov. 5.

Amelia Sinclair, Staff Writer

New Applied Arts and Technology teacher Ralph Arabian brings a wealth of experience to his position along with many aspirations for his students  

Arabian has 21 years of  teaching experience and  20 years of experience as an engineer. He uses his experience to teach woodworking, Computer Aided Design (CAD) and other construction and engineering skills. CAD is a type of software engineers use which is essentially a three-dimensional blueprint. 

Arabian is also learning new techniques and technologies so his courses stay relevant.

“[Engineering is] constantly changing; something today would be obsolete in a week or a month,” Arabian said.

Arabian values the ever-changing nature of engineering and tries to reflect that in his teachings. 

“I like to try to try to stay on the cutting edge and get my kids’ interest because kids like to learn new things,” Arabian said.

Students in his Wood Tech and Construction Technology classes learn a myriad of skills and concepts, such as the basics of engineering, blueprint-reading and architectural drawing. 

“What area would you go into where you wouldn’t need to use engineering or mathematics in the world?” Arabian said.

He believes students don’t learn through simply watching and taking notes, but instead through comprehending the given material.

“I’m the type of teacher that wants kids to come in and have fun and learn,” Arabian said. “Many students have said to me, ‘I had so much fun in your class I didn’t realize how much I was learning,’ and I believe that’s the best teacher to be.”

According to Arabian, hands-on engineering courses are becoming far and few between in modern schools. Even among schools in Massachusetts, Algonquin is one of the few places to offer such programs. 

“Try to get a contractor to come by your house these days; you have to beg him to come by,” Arabian said. “That’s what makes Algonquin stand out from the rest; they still have these programs.” 

Applied Arts department head Patricia Riley is a strong advocate for the importance of hands-on work.

“It’s a program that I think is extremely beneficial to our students, and it’s one that I don’t ever want to see go away, but it is getting harder to fill the position because of the skill-set that is needed,” Riley said.

In Arabian’s opinion, students who take these courses have a leg up in the workforce that is in desperate need for workers with construction and hands-on engineering training.

Riley believes  Arabian’s notable passion for his work will bring a lot to the long-taught art of woodworking and construction engineering.

“I’m hoping that he bonds with the kids, that the kids get excited to take his classes, that he brings new energy to the school and for the kids that take his classes and that they learn skills that they will use for the rest of their lives,” Riley said.