‘Project Lead the Way’ coming to Frontier High. DeWalt Corporation invests in STEM through ASCE
For the past year I’ve had the privilege of serving as President of the Southern San Joaquin Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Part of the mission of ASCE is lifelong education and promotion of the civil engineering profession. This year our branch focused on education outreach to local schools (K-12, Bakersfield College and CSUB). In March, on behalf of ASCE and DeWalt Corporation, I attended the kickoff meeting of Frontier High School’s Project Lead the Way Advisory committee established to support their STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) program beginning this fall. Project Lead the Way (PTLW) “prepares students for the global economy and is the Nation’s leading provider of STEM education” www.pltw.org. The roll out of Frontier’s program is unique, in that, the high school was selected to be a part of a national i3 (Investing in Innovation) study to answer the question, “To what extent does the 4-year PLTW Engineering Experience increase the intentions of students to pursue engineering or STEM related career?”. This Department of Education grant to validate Frontier’s PLTW program, provides tools needed for the program’s success (computer labs and engineering supplies, teacher and professional development and resources and a structure for student engagement and retention).
Most of us in science and math professions have benefitted from either a formal or informal “program” in our K-12 education which encouraged our pursuit of engineering and technology. We showed either curiosity or aptitude in math first, science or both, then…. something else happened. We were encouraged. Call it what you will, someone believed in us, praised us or mentored us. It was likely a teacher, but maybe it was a family member or friend that told us we could and should pursue the sciences. For me, it was a friend’s father and then acceptance into an engineering school, that was the beginning of my adventure. Many of us at DeWalt Corporation tell the same story…landing our first job as a chainman or a summer job working in the oilfields or as a draftsman in the office. We had the interest and drive and someone encouraged us to persist.
Frontier High’s PTLW pathway to engineering program is in its formative stages. They are determining the level of community support available for a curriculum specialty which will focus on one of 5 disciplines (Aerospace, Civil Engineering and Architecture, Computer integrated manufacturing, digital electronics and computer science and software engineering). To date no other Kern High School has a STEM program with an emphasis on Civil Engineering. I’m working with the advisory team to change that at Frontier HS and in our community. I’ve already invited the lead teacher to the DeWalt Corporation office to shadow my team members and have offered to visit his classes or help with the initial outreach to incoming freshmen. I’ll be working alongside Liz Rozell from BC, two engineering professors from CSUB, and industry representatives all committed to seeing the Pathway to Engineering realized in our local high schools. Below are the PLTW key contacts for the local high school and middle participating schools, if you’d like to engage in current or upcoming programs in your Kern County neighborhood:
Steve Wedel, Kern High School District (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jason Hutchison, Shafter High School (email@example.com)
Glynda Martin, Standard Middle School (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mary Westendorf, Fruitvale Junior High (email@example.com)