Governor Culver Accepts National 'Project Lead the Way' Award for Iowa
From the Office of the Governor of Iowa
Written by Troy Price
DES MOINES - Governor Chet Culver today joined with national representatives at the State Capitol from Project Lead the Way, Inc.to receive the prestigious 2009 Joseph H. Oakey Excellence in Education Award. Project Lead the Way is a science, technology,engineering and math (STEM) education initiative that prepares students to excel in high-tech fields. Iowa was recognized for itsoutstanding commitment to PLTW, its commitment to providing students with greater access to higher education and its efforts to createpartnerships to build a strong and sustainable PLTW program in Iowa's schools. At the ceremony today were representatives from nearly 25 schools participating in Project Lead the Way in Iowa.
"I accept this award on one condition - that I do so on behalf of the hundreds of students and business leaders who are helping to buildIowa's future," said Governor Culver. "Iowa is leading the way in math and science education, and I am honored to accept this award on behalf of the people of Iowa, who know and value the education of our children."
To ensure statewide access to the Project Lead the Way program, the Iowa Department of Economic Development invested $1 million,leveraging an additional $1.2 million from the Kern Family Foundation. Iowa's community colleges also invested $900,000. This total $3.1 million investment has combined with partnerships with the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa's community colleges, Regents institutions, the Association of Business and Industry, and local school district administrators, teachers, and parents, to pave the wayfor Iowa to build its skilled workforce from the ground up.
"Project Lead the Way, a pre-engineering program for middle and high schools, is building the pipeline of engineering, math, science andtechnology students," said IDED Director Bret Mills. "Preparing students for these professions and building a skilled Iowa workforceis one of the best investments Iowa can make to grow its wealth and workforce five, 10, and 20 years down the road."
Project Lead the Way provides middle and high schools with a rigorous, comprehensive curriculum, developed jointly by K-12 educators, collegefaculty and engineers. PLTW courses emphasize hands-on learning, allowing students the opportunity to apply math and science concepts to "real world" engineering problems. PLTW success is more than strong curriculum; Iowa partners have built a system that supports the program and students with a seamless transition into STEM-related career fields in Iowa community colleges and Regents institutions. In 2008 there were 1,737 students enrolled, which was an increase of 66 percent from the previous year.
Iowa businesses across the state have demonstrated their commitment to Project Lead the Way through cash and equipment donations, and throughengaging with students and solidifying the real-life applications for engineering.
The need for programs such as Project Lead the Way is real. According to the National Science Foundation, there are currently 1.3 millionengineering/engineering technology jobs available in the United States without trained people to fill them.
Students from schools across Iowa demonstrated projects at the Capitol today during the Project Lead the Way Legislative Showcase. Each student and school received a special certificate of recognition from Governor Culver. Schools participating in the Legislative Showcase at the award ceremony include:
Albia High School
Burlington High School
Cardinal Middle-Senior High School
Cedar Rapids Jefferson High School and Franklin Middle School
Council Bluffs Lewis Central High School
Davenport Central, North and West High School
Denver Senior High School
Grundy Center High School
Hampton Dumont High School
Humboldt High School
Iowa City City High School and Iowa City West Senior High School
Johnston High School
Maquoketa High School
Mount Ayr High School
Oelwein High School
Pella High School
Pocahontas Area High School
Sigourney High School
Sioux City East, North & West High Schools
Waterloo Carver Academy Middle School
Waverly-Shell Rock High School
West Marshall High School
Williamsburg Junior-Senior High School