Wise HS

Inside PGCPS

CTE Prepares Students for STEM Careers

CTE Prepares Students for STEM Careers

  • For Parents |
  • Student Voice |
  • February 14, 2019

The Introduction to Engineering class at Northwestern High School is not your typical ninth grade science.

The class offers students their first exposure to engineering as part of the four-year Project Lead the Way (PLTW) — a pre-engineering program available in six Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) high schools.

In just the third quarter of their high school career, PLTW students are creating 3D models via computer-aided design and drafting (CAD), measuring with calipers, and learning engineering fundamentals like statistical data analysis and technical vs. artistic sketching.

It's an example of how career and technical education (CTE) programs have expanded and are preparing students for today's high-demand STEM careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

“The tools our first-year students get to work with are ones that many engineering students don’t use until college,” said teacher Kenyetta Kendrick, who has taught PLTW courses for four years. Last year, Kendrick saw her first cohort of 10 students graduate from the program.

Northwestern’s 2018 PLTW graduating class was small in number, but their impact was mighty.

Half of the students graduated with college credits earned through dual enrollment, one was named a Posse Scholar and together, they were awarded nearly $900,000 in college scholarship offers. Many were accepted directly into college engineering and architecture programs and Kendrick noted one grad who is now an entrepreneur, opening his own mechanic shop.

For 2019, 25 PLTW seniors have so far earned $450,000 in scholarships.

“I’m interested in civil engineering because it’s a combination of math and creativity,” said freshman Sarai Subuyuj, who entered PLTW from Hyattsville Middle School. “I like the idea of playing a role in creating and constructing the world around us.”

Freshman Robel Bruk, who entered the program from Nicholas Orem Middle School,  says he plans to pursue computer science engineering in college and hopes to learn about the inner workings of computers through PLTW.

“CTE has evolved. It’s not just vocational and focuses on far more than skilled trades,” said Darlene Burton, PGCPS Engineering and Science Instructional Supervisor. “This is a national program and when students leave they are ready to pursue studies in engineering. When people think of CTE, they don’t think of college as much as career. But that has changed.”

2018 PLTW graduate Juan Lopez is currently a freshman electrical engineering major at Howard University. Lopez says he felt better prepared than peers in his introductory engineering courses due to CAD and focal drawing skills acquired at Northwestern.

“It is amazing to see how much PLTW has helped me during my first college semester,” he said. “Many topics introduced were merely a review for me. I have an edge over many of my classmates and can grasp new concepts faster.”

Project Lead the Way is currently offered in six PGCPS high schools: Crossland, DuVal, Charles H. Flowers, High Point, Oxon Hill and Northwestern.

*Parents of current eighth grade students in boundary for a high school where PLTW is offered may apply for entrance into the program and should contact their student's middle school counselor for more information.

Learn more about PGCPS CTE Programs