Maryland CTE Teacher Profile
Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Pre-Engineering
Charles Herbert Flowers High School - Prince George's County, Maryland
It is exciting to observe the future engineers of tomorrow in action.
Implemented in 2003, the Project Lead The Way (PLTW) program at Charles Herbert Flowers High School is redefining CTE (Career and Technical Education) programs in Prince George’s County. Cultivated in a nurturing, student-centered learning environment, the program is transforming impressionable students into young professionals capable of using their skills, talents, and resources to solve the world’s problems and take their education to the next level. The PLTW Pre-Engineering program received college certification through the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) and the Maryland State Department of Education so that students in the program may earn college credit. The students are required to take five PLTW classes, Introduction to Engineering Design (9th), Principles of Engineering (10th), Digital Electronics (11th), Civil Engineering and Architecture, and Engineering Design and Development (12th). In addition to the required PLTW courses, students in the program are enrolled in Honors and Advance Placement (AP) English, history, science and mathematics classes. Several students participate in sports and other extra curricula activities both school and non-school related. Currently there are approximately 80 students in the program.
What do you like about teaching the PLTW Pre-Engineering program?
I like teaching the courses in the PLTW Pre-Engineering program because it is on the cutting edge and all students can learn with this project-base curriculum. The curriculum is based on activities, projects and a problem-based approach to learning. The program excites students to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) related careers, and properly prepares them for their post-secondary education. Courses are aligned to the Maryland College and Career Ready Standards for Math and English Language Arts, as well as the Next Generation Science Standards, and industry standards. The courses are kept up-to-date by the PLTW national office and the University of Baltimore County (UMBC) provides a variety of support resources for both the instructors and students in the program. They even provide me with training!
What community partners assist with the implementation of the program?
The following are my community partners who assist with the implementation of the PLTW Pre-Engineering program at Charles Herbert Flowers High School: Lockheed Martin, University of Maryland Center of Minorities in Science and Engineering, Prince Georges Community College, Bowie State University Department of Computer Science, Strive 360, Eduserc, Missouri University of Science and Technology, University of Maryland Materials Research Science and Engineering Center and BAE Systems. These partners are a valuable resource for supporting my classroom instruction and providing authentic work-based learning experiences for my students.
How do the PLTW Pre-Engineering courses differ from the traditional high school courses?
The PLTW courses are designed from the start to be student-centered. In a student-centered classroom, students participate actively in the learning process and are involved in activities throughout the class period. This enables students to construct and reflect on their understanding of the material that is presented. A variety of hands-on activities are utilized to promote learning. Students interact through team learning and by teaching each other. The PLTW Pre-Engineering courses and lessons are designed to complement the math and science courses that students are required to take, and provide an opportunity for students to apply math and science concepts to solve problems and understand the lessons.
What is the most exciting thing you teach or have your students experience in the program?
The most exciting course I teach in the program is the Engineering Design and Development course. This is a capstone course that requires the students to apply their knowledge and skills acquired from the previous PLTW courses. Students work in teams to develop a solution to a technical problem of their choosing. The student teams follow the engineering design process to research, design, test, and construct a solution to their problem, ultimately presenting their solution to a panel of engineers. Over the years students have developed variety of patentable ideas. One team was selected by the Lemelson-MIT Program and received a grant to design and develop a lock for the blind and visually impaired. It is exciting to observe the future engineers of tomorrow in action.
What skills do students obtain from completing the PLTW Pre-Engineering program?
This program helps students develop the skills necessary to succeed in our global economy and our workforce here in Maryland. Over the life of the program students grow academically and professionally as they learn how to communicate effectively, work in teams, facilitate discussions, be creative, practice professional conduct, think critically, innovate and solve real-world problems. It doesn't get any better than this!
What kinds of career and educational plans are your students making as they prepare to graduate from your program?
I'm excited to tell you that 100% of the students who graduate from the PLTW Pre-Engineering program at my school attend a post secondary institution, either Community College or four-year, and/or are enrolling in the United Stated Military Academies. The majority of the students are pursuing STEM related careers in engineering, bio-medical engineering, pre-med, forensic science and business.