In the Marianist spirit of adaptation and change, Archbishop Riordan High School is always looking for new approaches to curriculum that provide innovative ways to challenge our students.

Given Riordan’s Bay Area location near major engineering and technology companies, our students have a natural exposure to the many career opportunities and practical applications of engineering. This interest, plus Riordan’s existing strong math and science curriculum, led Riordan to create a four-year honors engineering program with a focus on computer engineering, fabrication, and design.

My favorite project in engineering has been creating a remote controlled car. I enjoyed creating it because I could see the car coming together along the way. When I made mistakes as I built it, I learned about robotics as I fixed them.

Harrison Carpenter '22

Who Should Apply?

The Engineering Program is a highly challenging academic program fit for a mature student. Admission is based on 7th and 8th grade math and science grades, performance on standardized tests, demonstrated ability to handle a rigorous course load, and demonstrated interest in the area of engineering. In addition to taking two engineering courses each year, students are expected to take advanced math and science courses that complement the engineering offerings and prepare them for a college-level engineering major. 

Engineering Courses


Computer Programming 1: App Dev w/Swift

Students learn the fundamentals of programming, while making apps for iPhones and iPads using Apple’s new Swift programming language. Students begin in a more simple environment (Processing / p5) to get the basics, move onto Swift challenges, and then start making apps.


Students focus on electrical and mechanical engineering, though there is also some programming in the robotics portion. The first portion of the class focuses more on mechanical engineering, specifically CAD (Computer-Aided Design) with Tinkercad and Fusion 360. Around the holidays, students shift focus to robotics, which adds a lot of electrical engineering and programming for physical products.


Advanced Engineering

Students continue tinkering in the Makerspace, delving deeper into fabrication and electronics, while completing more open ended projects. For electronics, they move up from Arduino microcontrollers to the Raspberry Pi microprocessor, and they try their hand at fancy tools like Oscilloscopes. On the fabrication side, they dive into the design thinking process and industrial design principles while taking on the biggest machine in the shop, the Tormach (CNC mill)!

Computer Programming 2: Full Stack Web Dev w/JavaScript

This class takes students’ professional programming skills to the next level, as they become full stack web developers. They tackle the client-server relationship, which in this case is how browsers and apps interact with web servers. They leave the class able to create simple websites, blogs, and all-out web apps like Facebook and Airbnb.


AP Computer Science with Java and Android Dev

This class is a combination of an AP Computer Science course and an Android app development course. Both use the same language, Java. While the students will already know most of the concepts from other languages, they dive deeper into computer science topics like algorithms and optimization.

Computer Programming 3: Game Dev with Unity

Games provide a unique opportunity for young programmers, since games are not only fun and engaging, but also are made up of incredibly complex digital assets and programming logic. This class takes students on a journey that challenges them to draw on all they know about technology and craft one of their favorite things: a game. Students start with simple 2D game development, then move up to the professional and wildly popular Unity Game Engine.


Advanced Computer Science w/AI

Computer programming is somewhat distinct from computer science, which is the theory underlying programming convention. While most of our classes teach students to be professional developers, rather than theorists, this class is devoted to the theory. It is similar to first year college computer science courses, except that those courses assume many of the students won’t even know how to program yet.

School Year Final Project

Students will be able to explore an industry-level capstone project or internship during their final year to gain real world experience.

Frequently Asked Questions


In addition to Riordan’s regular application requirements, students must submit a brief essay that details their interest in the Engineering Program. You will submit this when you complete Riordan’s online application. 

Please note if you are an international student interested in applying to the Engineering Program, the SSAT is required. 


Other than what is noted above about the application process, there are no specific requirements to apply to the Engineering Program. When accepting students, the Admissions Committee looks at a student’s proven ability to handle a rigorous academic course load, 7th and 8th grade math and science grades, and demonstrated interest in the field of engineering. The school typically admits 36 students to the program each year.


Yes, there is a supplemental Engineering Program fee of $3,250 in addition to Riordan’s regular tuition. Engineering students are also required to purchase a specific laptop (more information will be given upon admittance to the program).


Yes. If you aren't in the Engineering Program, you can take our Fabrication Lab course or our Graphic Design & Laser Printing course. These courses don't have prerequisites and are open to students of all levels. You can also participate in Robotics Club, which is a great opportunity to learn more about engineering principles outside of the classroom. 

Partnership with TechLX 

Riordan partners with local tech education company, TechLX, to run the engineering program. TechLX provides in-person, project-based technology education to the K-12 ecosystem through curriculum, instruction, and training. They help organizations integrate technology education into their curricula as well as develop and teach elective, after-school, and summer programs. TechLX assists not only in guiding the ever-evolving Riordan engineering program curriculum, but also in finding and training teaching staff with ties to the technology industry.

Program Overview

The scope and sequence of the Engineering Program is designed to provide maximum curriculum alignment. In the first year, students take an introductory engineering course which gives an overview of both the practical and theoretical aspects of engineering. Concurrently, they are also enrolled in Intro to Computer Programming which provides a strong technical foundation for the courses they will be taking their sophomore through senior years. Please note that as the program advances, modifications may be made to this course sequence.

Each year students will take classes to build skills across multiple disciplines, with the goal that they will graduate as proficient programmers, engineers, designers, collaborators, and problem solvers.

Engineering Student Soldering


A place where design, technology, and human innovation intersect. It is a physical space for classes, but more importantly, it is an environment for testing out ideas, collaborating with peers, and building things. Students interested in careers such as design, game and app development, and programming can develop their passions in the Makerspace. All are welcome!


  • 3D printers with Cura software
  • Laser cutter
  • CNC machine
  • Computers with Autodesk 123D software
  • Traditional carpentry tools: soldering irons, drills, hand-held sanders
  • Materials for circuit boards