On Wednesday, November 5, 2014, Mary Jo Wood, the Director of the Regional Office of Career and Technical Education; Cindy Stover from the Illinois Association for Career and Technical Education; and Sean Lynch, the Legislative and Public Affairs Manager for the Association for Career and Technical Education visited the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) program at Pleasant Plains High School and observed a class in the program.
Erik Koning, one of the PPHS teachers who teaches classes in the PLTW program, explained the classes in the program and how the classes prepared students for their futures.
Project Lead the Way is a High School STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program that prepares students for college engineering/technology classes and the real world. There are 4 PLTW classes at Pleasant Plains High School: Introduction to Engineering Design (IED), Principles of Engineering (POE), Digital Electronics (DE), and Engineering Design and Development (EDD).
All of these classes offer the students a hands on/problem based understanding of Science and Math principles that will give them a step up at the next level. Students can take these classes from their Freshman year until they are Seniors and are exposed to levels of technology that will allow them to succeed outside of High School.
Students go from creating a product from a design problem to calculating for stresses on truss beams for a bridge. They also figure out the ins and outs of a digital system and then apply that system to a design project of their choosing. Finally their design project can be designed, built, and tested all they way to a product that can be patented. PPHS students use many state of the art tools and programs throughout the PLTW program. They use a 3D CAD modeling software called Inventor that will allow them to see their design in 3D. They also have access to RobotC, a programming software, and MultiSIM, a circuit design software.
Last but not least, PPHS classes have access to a 3D printer which allows them the ability to rapidly prototype a product in plastic. The prototype can then be used to visually and tactilely review a product, and, most importantly, they can test it. All in all, PLTW gives high school students a great view of what engineering and technology is so that they can make an informed choice about their futures.