“You need more than a degree.” It’s a phrase all high schools have started to hear more often and dread. Those very words seem to stab each and every student with the realization of the truth in that sentence. In today’s modern economy, it seems as if every employer desires high-skilled workers with experience already on their resumes. Castro Valley High School’s contribution was to participate in a nationwide engineering program called Project Lead The Way (PLTW).
This College and Career Pathway program was founded three years ago by the State of California as a way to promote students´ awareness and to develop programs for highly demanding, high paying careers. This happened after the realization three years ago, that though many students would begin the path of college, less than 40 percent of those would finish their associates or bachelors degrees. This put students in debt and without the benefit of the degree. PLTW is supposed to help guide students who want to have a career in engineering to do so methodically, beneficially, and successfully.
Though many students have it in their mind that being part of the College and Career Pathways program may limit their accessibility to other classes, it doesn’t seem the case. All pathways allow students to take AP and Honors classes if that is their choice.
Rich Schneck, who is putting the PLTW class together, shares an interesting perspective as another reason why students should join. “Every modern thing around us was thought of, designed by and built because of an engineer. The building you sit in, the computers you work at, the phone you use, the lights and plumbing in your house did not exist 100 years ago. An engineer thought of it and made it happen and the world is a better place.”
Many students have been inspired to join this program. According to Schneck, there have been over 309 sign ups, 120 of them incoming freshmen. The original plan was to have 64 freshmen taking two sections of PLTW. The school then decided, however, to open it to all students. There will be a lottery to select students for the 160 possible student slots.
“I’ve just always loved the idea of building something that will benefit people. Help them and bring enjoyment into their lives,” said freshman and hopeful future PLTW member Teresa Le.
There will be no fees on students who enter PLTW. As of right now PLTW has been given two large grants from the State of California with a third even larger grant that PLTW feels confident they will get.
“There will be over $150,000 budgeted for engineering equipment come fall. Money will be spent used to renovate and upgrade the old woodshop and engineering classrooms,” according to Jesse Hansen, assistant principal.
PLTW plans to do even more students in the future. “We’re working to get internships up for students in the program,” Hansen states. “That way they get more hands-on experience, work experience, and get to really learn about being an engineer and to help them get that foot in the door.”
This pathway was designed not only to help students but to help them impact the future.
“More important the engineering pathway helps our country meet the demand for engineers in our society,” Schneck comments. “We are competing in a global economy. We need to keep our competitive edge in innovation and new technology to improve our lives.”
Watch out world, CVHS student engineers are about to take it over.