College of Engineering Forging New Generations of Engineers

College of Engineering Forging New Generations of Engineers
Upland High School Principal Ben Rich and science instructor Greg Peck talk with Bruce Westermo during the Project Lead the Way conference.
Westermo, who is the national affiliate director of Project Lead the Way, speaks at the conference.

The College of Engineering is teaming with the nonprofit organization Project Lead the Way to offer state-approved, pre-engineering and science curricula for middle and high school students. This responds directly to the high-tech staffing crisis reported by industry and government leaders.

In California alone, the Labor and Workforce Development Agency projects that, unless action in taken now, the state faces a shortfall of almost 40,000 engineers by 2014, according to an Office of the Governor press release.

The College of Engineering and PLTW seek to increase the quantity and quality of engineers and engineering technologists graduating from the educational system.

“The College of Engineering is uniquely positioned to take the lead in this initiative in Southern California,” says Dean Ed Hohmann. “We have one of the largest engineering programs in the western United States and have a longstanding reputation for the learn-by-doing philosophy.”

On Jan. 11, the college hosted an informational conference for teachers and administrators from six school districts. The 35 attendees represented districts including Antelope Valley, El Monte, Hacienda La Puente, Hesperia, Pomona and Upland unified school districts. Several Cal Poly Pomona faculty members and administrators attended as well.

The PLTW curriculum was first introduced in 12 New York high schools in the 1997-98 school year. Today, the programs are offered at more than 2,000 schools in more than 45 states. The curriculum includes foundation courses such as Introduction to Engineering Design and Principles of Engineering, as well as specialization courses such as Civil Engineering and Architecture, and Aerospace Engineering. Currently, several courses are pre-approved in California.

The College of Engineering is currently recruiting high schools to participate in training for teachers, who would then teach the PLTW courses at their high schools.

The college anticipates that partnering with PLTW will enhance engineering student enrollment, retention and graduation success. Research shows that students introduced to engineering principles, concepts, and real-world problems in high school are better prepared for college engineering programs and more likely to be successful.

The colleges of Science and Education & Integrative Studies may also join the partnership with PLTW in order to enhance professional development opportunities for high school math and science teachers.

For more information contact the College of Engineering at (909) 869-2600.