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
Thursday, June 20, 2024
by: Olivia Lynch

Section: Press Releases

Philadelphia, PA
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 afterschool STEM program designed for 7th graders. The program, led by Ed Brogan, Application Technology Specialist at Airline Hydraulics, gave students hands-on experience in the basics of industrial computer systems that control sensors and monitor devices known as Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) programming.

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 a fantastic experience for me, and I think it was an enjoyable experience for them, 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 was able to 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, including Mark Steffens, CEO, Martin Migliori, Fluid Systems Engineering Manager, and Joelle Andres-Beck, Fluid Systems Engineer. They 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 a group of 15-30 7th-grade students. As Airline Hydraulics continues to celebrate its 75th anniversary, it remains devoted to inspiring young minds and shaping a brighter future through STEM education. This partnership with La Salle Academy is one of many planned initiatives to make STEM education accessible and thrilling for students of all backgrounds.

Mark Steffens, CEO of Airline Hydraulics, expresses his pride in the program: "Our goal is to provide a hands-on, practical learning experience that inspires students to explore the intriguing world of manufacturing and consider careers in this dynamic and rapidly evolving field. We firmly believe that future engineers will thrive by embracing their creativity and problem-solving skills."

For more information about La Salle Academy and Airline Hydraulics' future programs, please visit or contact Olivia Lynch, Marketing Associate at Airline Hydraulics.

Watch a video about the program here.

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, with a focus 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. The Graduate Support Program helps students through high school, making La Salle Academy a nurturing and supportive environment.

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. Their dedication to community engagement and STEM education underlines their mission to drive progress and inspire the next generation of engineers and innovators.

Stay tuned for updates on Airline Hydraulics' ongoing partnership with La Salle Academy, along with other exciting initiatives planned for the upcoming school year.