Writer: Lorena Sanchez
The expansion of Project Lead the Way throughout New Mexico now offers students across the state the opportunity to further develop their interest in science, technology, engineering and math.
The purpose of PLTW is to give students the opportunity to explore their interests by funding courses that allow them to explore the various aspects of engineering and technology in middle school and high school.
Anthony Hyde, affiliate university director for PLTW in New Mexico, worked to expand the program’s outreach from New Mexico State University statewide by getting other universities and community colleges to become affiliates for the program.
“The idea is to bring relevance and rigor in a new way to students by doing hands on and other interesting and pragmatic activities,” Hyde said. “The effectiveness and reputation of the program on a national level has helped spread the program across the state.”
In 2004 Hyde, who is also a professor of engineering technology at NMSU, was searching for a program that would increase the number of students entering the engineering program at NMSU. Hyde chose PLTW because of its high success rate.
“Close to 90 percent of the students involved with PLTW graduate from high school and 85% who graduate attend post secondary school,” Hyde said. “In addition, to the potential students, NMSU College of Engineering as Affiliate University has an opportunity to work closely and be involved with the students, teachers and schools.”
NMSU’s enrollment has been positively affected by the program’s implementation.
“PLTW Lead the Way is positively affecting enrollment both at NMSU and the College of Engineering. There are estimated 3500-5000 high school students participating in PLTW classes this year around the state,” Hyde said. “These students are now all learning about engineering and technical careers in high school, which wasn’t available to students a few years ago.”
Not only has the program brought success to the university, but the state also stands to benefit from the education its students are receiving.
“This program will help the state’s technical workforce to increase. The availability of a technical workforce is critical to improving economic development in New Mexico,” Hyde said.
For students interested in becoming involved with PLTW, the process can begin in middle school where students attending participating schools can enroll in a Gateway to Technology course, and follow up with seven foundation and specialization courses offered in high school. The foundation courses include Introduction to Engineering Design, Principles of Engineering and Digital Electronics. The specialization courses include civil and architectural engineering, mechanical and aerospace engineering, computer integrated manufacturing and engineering design. If the program is not available to students in middle school, as a freshman in high school they can begin with the foundation courses.
Statewide there are 21 high schools and two middle schools that are an active part of the PLTW. Currently there are seven to 10 middle schools and three high schools preparing to offer the program by fall 2010. Students who are interested in participating can go the pltw.org to find information on which middle schools and high schools in New Mexico are actively a part of the organization. Students can search for area schools in the “Getting Started” section of the site under “School Database.”
Contact information for each school can be found by clicking on the school name, after the search is conducted. Any further questions can be answered by the councilors and teachers listed on the site who are administering the program at the participating schools.
“As an Engineering Professor, I find it very rewarding to see high school students have the opportunity to design, build and make things in an engaging and educational way. These types of opportunities were not available just a few years ago,” Hyde said.
“I feel PLTW is critical to the future of the College of Engineering at NMSU and very important to the state of New Mexico,” he added.
Additional information can be found on the pltw.org. Students and teachers can also contact Anthony Hyde at firstname.lastname@example.org and (575) 646-5029, or Phyllis Baca at email@example.com and (505) 490-1557.