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Pfisd Engineering Students Design Mini Golf Courses

Feb. 28, 2022 

Part of Career & Technical Education is taking the learning material and showing how it can apply to the real world. For Pflugerville ISD students in Mrs. Dana Whitmire’s engineering design and development class at Hendrickson High School, that meant getting to design their own putt-putt course.

Students broke into groups to brainstorm ideas for hole designs and how best to construct them for the fall project. From there, the Hawks built a course with 12 holes. After playing the holes multiple times, they determined a par for each hole and printed scorecards.

With intricate designs, challenging obstacles and youthful creativity, this was not your average putt-putt course. Par ranged from 3 up to a mind-blowing 10.

“It was a blast,” said Hendrickson senior Davis Ohe of designing their own holes. “We were all working in a group to first come up with an idea, select which one we were going to use, figure out how we’re going to build it and what parts we’re going to use. It’s actually kind of fun once you get into it.”

Ohe plans to pursue a career in automotive technology and said the Engineering Technology class at Hendrickson provides an exciting learning atmosphere and allows students the freedom to explore while doing their work. That makes it one of his favorite classes.

“For an engineering course, it’s quite laid back, but it’s still really strict in how you’re graded,” Ohe said. “You’re not just babied along, which is something I really appreciate. You’re given a task, you’re told how to do it, and you’re left to your own devices to be able to do it. That’s one of the things I really appreciate.”

Hendrickson students weren’t the only ones to get in on the fun of designing their own golf course, either. Weiss High School students in the engineering program also built their course under the guidance of Mr. Nick Spennato. Their course featured fewer holes due to the size of the class, but it was just as much of a learning experience and adventure for the students.

With the students left to their own devices as Ohe described it, the golf course at Hendrickson took on a different look or theme from hole to hole. One hole featured geometric shapes from the video game Tetris that was difficult to navigate through narrow openings and tricky angles. Others featured mechanical windmills and various hazards and obstacles to maneuver around.

Ohe’s team designed and built one of the standout holes of the course known as “The Plinko Hole,” developed and named after the famous game from The Price Is Right. The hole featured a steep ramp that led to a drop-off down a peg board similar to Plinko. For those who failed to make it up the ramp or missed the drop-off, it was back down to the beginning.

And true to the nature of engineering, building the holes was a challenge and provided for lots of trial and error. As students and staff visited to play, the engineering students had many trips to the drawing board or the workbench for modifications and fixes. Ohe said his team encountered one annoying design flaw that needed constant fixing – the pegboard.

“We actually finished fixing it during lunch because some of the pegs had been falling off because the glue wasn’t holding,” Ohe said.

The solution? Approach it from the other side. Ohe and his team drilled screws through the back of the pegboard to fix them directly rather than glue. This trial and error and modifications of plans made the putt-putt course a true engineering experiment for the students.

The other learning opportunities came in interacting with their fellow students and explaining the course to their fellow Hawks. With the course open during the local fall food drive, students and staff could play the course by bringing a canned food item with them. The baseball team came by during one of their team meetings. Other groups and clubs, even Superintendent Dr. Doug Killian, came by during lunch to test their skills on the course.

“I’ve met a lot of people I didn’t even know existed,” Ohe said of meeting new students. “We’ve had a bunch of different groups come out here to come look at it. People stop by during lunch to come play it, ask questions. It’s really enlightening.”

But most enlightening, perhaps, is from the lessons learned that apply to the class and project. What did Ohe take away from the assignment?

“Next time, remind me to screw all those (pegs) in instead of using glue.”

Spoken like a true engineer.

To learn more about Engineering Technology or other CTE classes and programs offered by Pflugerville ISD, please visit There are CTE classes beginning at the middle school level and programs for a wide variety of career interests.