Senior Cebrina Kader carries a 4.00 GPA, is a second-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and competes on the school’s cross-country track team.
But what really sets her apart is her interest in computer-aided design, or CAD, a male-dominated field of engineering.
“I’ve always loved taking things apart, and I love hands-on activities,” says Cebrina, the only girl pursuing CAD at her high school and one of the few who have pursued the field at the Kent Career Tech Center.
When she graduates next spring, Cebrina plans to pursue engineering courses at Grand Rapids Community College and then, a degree in biomedical engineering at Grand Valley State University. She says her CAD skills will help her develop prosthetic devices using 3D printers.
At the Tech Center, Cebrina led a team of her classmates who designed a power system for traffic lights powered by wind turbine generators that get their energy from passing cars and trucks. She’s developed her 3D printing skills to make tiny cars and a Golden Snitch, the ball used by Quidditch players in Harry Potter books.
Larry Ridley, her engineering and design instructor at the Tech Center, says his CAD students have the option of pursuing engineering or architectural projects in his classes. Most of the few girls in his male-dominated classes choose the architectural path, with the exception of Cebrina.
“Cebrina was very well suited for engineering,” says Ridley, who has taught at the Tech Center for 22 years. “She was very detail oriented. She came with the ability to grasp the mechanics of engineering, the parts and the details. She picks things up very easily.”
“She’s very self-motivated, which in any classroom is always a benefit.”
While most Tech Center students complete their engineering courses in their junior and senior year, Cebrina is back at Comstock Park High School for her senior year so she can complete advanced placement courses for college credits. She’s also working to hone her CAD and 3D printing skills at the high school with robotics instructor Harold Schneider.
“She’s a young lady who knows where she wants to go in life and knows that you have to earn it,” says Schneider. “She doesn’t look at the barriers. She looks at them as challenges and works through them. She’s just a remarkable student.”