Fifteen science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, high school educators from eight states have attended a two-week-long workshop at Georgia Southern University.
Attendees are undergoing rigorous training in one of the pre-engineering classes offered by Project Lead The Way and will be charged with going back to their respective classrooms and introducing their high school students to engineering concepts.
“As one of the country’s newest Colleges of Engineering, Georgia Southern University is attracting a lot of interest from around the country,” said Mohammad Davoud, the interim dean of the Allen E. Paulson College of Engineering and Information Technology. “This week, we are hosting high school teachers from as far away as Indiana with the goal of providing them with informative and engaging lessons in engineering that will help them inspire their students back home.”
Project Lead the Way Inc. is a national nonprofit organization that promotes STEM education in high school systems across the country. The program offers a modular hands-on, project-based approach to learning that trains high school faculty to teach the modules, ultimately preparing and encouraging high school students to pursue a science, technology, engineering or math degree in college.
High school teachers from throughout the country attend summer training sessions at regional sites such as Georgia Southern. Following their training, the teachers become certified to implement the various engineering lessons at their respective high schools. PLTW incorporates mathematics, science, technical skills, verbal, written and visual communication skills, teamwork, leadership skills and project management ability. Based on 2011-12 data, 4,200 schools across the country have adopted the curriculum, with more expected to in the coming years.
“The ultimate goal of the program is to help our country build the engineering workforce of the future by introducing high school students to engineering topics at an early age,” said Aniruddha Mitra, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Project Lead the Way program at Georgia Southern. “We are excited because this is a win for everyone involved. It is great for the teachers and their school districts. It is positive for our state and university. Most importantly, these teachers will be taking what they have learned and will be exposing their students to the high-demand field of engineering.”
Georgia Southern has been the affiliate university for PLTW in Georgia for the past six years. Through its relationship with the project, in addition to the summer workshop, the university also provides a yearly conference for high school counselors, PLTW certification for Georgia high schools and professional development for teachers.
This year, Georgia Southern is offering three courses: Computer Integrated Manufacturing, Principles of Engineering and Introduction to Engineering Design. Attendees include teachers from Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana and Tennessee. Classes will continue through today and are being held in the College of Engineering and Information Technology building.