Principles of Engineering

Waterford High School students Devin Baumgartner, left, and Carson Fiehweg build an automated robotic elevator in the Principles of Engineering class.

WATERFORD — Waterford High School has been recognized as a Project Lead The Way Distinguished School. This honor was earned by 68 high schools across the United States and only three in Wisconsin.

PLTW is a nonprofit organization that develops STEM curricula used by millions of students around the country. PLTW focuses on not only developing the technical skills needed to be successful at engineering, but also problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, teamwork and collaboration skills.

PLTW began at WHS during the 2015-16 school year and has expanded to five different engineering course offerings today. The program was introduced to the school by Kyle Rader, one of the school’s technology and engineering education teachers. After obtaining bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering and working in the industry as an engineer, Rader decided to become an educator at the high school level in 2014.

During the 2014-15 school year, Rader identified a need for engineering classes, as the school’s offerings for engineering-bound students were limited. A variety of options were investigated, and PLTW was chosen as the ideal partner. Through the support of the administration and school board, the district’s engineering offerings are now a fully developed program that provides students the ability to learn about many different disciplines of engineering during their time in high school.

Over the past few years, students have been excelling at the course material and earning high scores on the nationwide, standardized end-of-course assessments that are similar to AP exams. This high level of achievement, coupled with the level of access and engagement the engineering students have, has allowed WHS to qualify for the PLTW Distinguished School recognition.

High schools qualify by meeting all three of the following criteria:

  • Offer at least three PLTW courses
  • Have 25 percent of students or more participate in PLTW courses, or of those who participated in PLTW, at least 33 percent took two or more PLTW courses during their high school tenure
  • Have 70 percent of students or more earn a proficient or higher on PLTW End-of-Course Assessments, or 10 percent of students earn the AP + PLTW Student Achievement

WHS plans on continuing to offer a strong sequence of engineering classes. In addition to getting a taste for engineering in high school, students are now also able to obtain college credit for all PLTW classes, providing yet another benefit for their postsecondary education. The school’s PLTW program has created new opportunities for students to explore potential careers, develop job-critical skills and strengthen their educational background.

To view informational videos about the Technology and Engineering Education department and classes, visit http://bit.ly/wuhs-pltw.

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