El Dorado Union High School District and Union Mine High School are launching a new career pathway in engineering — the first of its kind in the district.
Recent data has made it quite evident that the U.S. lags behind other countries in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) advancements. Data has also indicated that STEM jobs will grow by 17 percent by 2018, with more than 1.2 million unfilled jobs due to lack of qualified workers.
A nonprofit organization called Project Lead the Way (PLTW) has risen to the challenge of making a difference in this highly technical arena and has created a nationwide network of partnerships with approximately 100 leading corporations and philanthropic organizations and 50 postsecondary and research institutions to transform our country’s ability to be competitive with its global peers. As a result, PLTW has become the nation’s leading provider of world-class curriculum and teacher professional development models to more than 5,000 schools in 50 states.
Through an application process, Union Mine High School was accepted into the PLTW program for engineering. The school has committed to offering its students a minimum of three courses in the engineering program by the end of the third year of implementation.
These courses include Introduction to Engineering Design, Principles of Engineering, Computer Integrated Manufacturing, and Engineering Design and Development. Union Mine’s program will begin in the 2014-15 school year with ninth grade students. Students selected to pursue the pathway to engineering will not only learn to think critically, work collaboratively, and explore how math and science work in his/her everyday life, but will learn to apply STEM knowledge, highly transferrable skills, and habits of mind to make the world a better place through innovation. Students will also use the same industry-leading technology and software as the world’s top companies.
Through a grant obtained through NextEd, the organization that manages the capital region network for Project Lead the Way, Union Mine was awarded $100,000 to incorporate into the school’s STEM program. A portion of the grant includes the implementation of a state-of-the-art computer lab, intensive teacher and staff training, and support materials.
“Our school has been searching for a while to find the right career technical program to add to our course offerings. The timing was perfect,” said Principal Tony DeVille. “When the opportunity arrived at the district to become a PLTW school, we were very fortunate to have been selected to house such a world-class program. The ultimate goal as educators is to prepare our students to be the next generation of problem solvers, critical thinkers and innovators. I believe this program will be a perfect match to do just that. I am so excited to get this program launched and expect it to be highly successful. I look forward to hearing about future success stories from students whose careers were propelled by the PLTW program at Union Mine.”