Project Lead The Way!

As the name states this thread is about PLTW the Pre-Engineering course for highschool, located out of Clifton Park, N.Y.
The questions i have are:
-whos heard of it?
-who has it in their school?
-what classes have you taken (if any)?
-also what experiance have you gotten from it?
-What would you say to others thinking about taking any of the classes?

Heres the website for PLTW http://www.pltw.org

~Mike

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It’s offered in our school.

I thought about taking it and then realized that it wasn’t a really good use of time.

I mean, first year, they teach you technical drawing on Autocad Inventor… Well, that program isn’t really worthy of 1 year to teach (along with some basic lessons in drawing style and technique) especially when you can just grab the robotics’ teams copy and learn it.

2nd year is digital electronics and that’s something I competed in and knew enough about.

I wes thinking about taking Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) in 11th grade this fall but then I just got a copy of mastercam and have started learning to use it…

I get PLTW is a good course for people with little engineering background and who want to learn the basics. However, for someone who is pursuing a technical engineering field, the course is probably not too useful if you can do robotics instead :slight_smile: … Or motivate yourself to do it at home.

We have it at our school. This was our first year in the program. I did not take any of the classes because of scheduleing conflicts. This program changed our electronics classes to digital electronics, our CAD classes used both AutoCAD and Inventor ( i think). Thats all that I can contribute.
Eric

*Originally posted by monsieurcoffee *
**It’s offered in our school.
I get PLTW is a good course for people with little engineering background and who want to learn the basics. However, for someone who is pursuing a technical engineering field, the course is probably not too useful if you can do robotics instead :slight_smile: … Or motivate yourself to do it at home. **

This is what saddens me. IT is great that it has spread to 40 states from just 2 schools, but what i dont think is cool is the degree it is different from one school to anotther, i guess also with schools dont always have teachers that can be well prepared to teach some of the classes. I would say i have a good backround in engineering and things but from the staudents that have gone through the course in our school, the brother school to the originating school, the students still use their notes and notebooks from classes like POE and things in their junior and senior year in college for mechanical engineering, so i guess some schoolls dont teach as in depth as others do.

~Mike

Don’t let monsiercoffee let you down about PLTW, Dez… it is a great program.

Kokomo HS adopted the program about 3 years ago and it was the first school in Indiana to do so. No, there are over 50 Indiana schools with PLTW. As you know, it is not a dumbed-down alternative to a robotics team, as implied above. It is a foundation of basics for many types of engineering, and students need that. PLTW provides students with courses similar to the “intro to engineering” courses that many colleges have.

For our team, the students in the Inventor class get through their projects pretty quickly, and then they start working on FIRST stuff (heh… the teacher is on the team, and he has read these Forums for 4-5 years now). So even the motivated students can take the course, get ahead, and work on FIRST-team related stuff in their class time.

Heck, if people can take home a master-cam program and learn it on their own, I suppose that they can also take home a Calculus book and memorize it too. It dosen’t necessarily mean that they know how to use what they are learning. They should still take the class.

PLTW is one of the best technical, curriculum-based programs that has come along for high schoolers. I have attended many PLTW recruiting sessions and see that teachers are as excited about this program as the students are.

Kudos to Shenendoah HS and others for making this nation-wide program a success.

Andy B.

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*Originally posted by Andy Baker *
**Kudos to Shenendoah HS and others for making this nation-wide program a success.
**

Shenendehowa… :smiley:
I’m a “Shen” alum, so I should probably correct you Andy.

I took the PLTW tech curriculum (at the original school) and it was great. It certainly gives you a taste of engineering, and teaches you some practical skills to help you out as you progress through engineering.

I’ve worked for 3 summers as a CAD draftsman, due in part to my PLTW experience.

PLTW is a new thing to Northwest Indiana. Gavit High in Hammond Indiana, have adopted the program. This coming up school year will be the first year for the program in our school system. I received a letter today that I was accepted. Myself and another member of our robotics team were the only present high schoolers that were accepted. PLTW which is a four year program is meant to be a pre-engineering course. Our school in partnership with Purdue University Calumet have raised the millions of dollars to cover the expense of this program. Our school (Gavit) is the first school out of the district that have adopted this program, and have covered the expenses.

What our school has done is take resume’s off all incoming freshman and reviewed their records to see who would be most applicable for this type of program. The PLTW program in my mind are for people that are looking to be in the engineering field.

What our school has done is partnership with Purdue University Calumet to offer a advanced curriculum, along with state of the art lab settings. In addition we have had one of our teachers at Gavit go through the training to become a PLTW teacher. Our Gavit teacher along with many professors at Purdue will work together in an in-lighting lab to better benefit the selected students.

What was interesting was the outpouring of people who wanted to become part of this program. The program which was offered only to advanced students. I have met with all of the people involved in our local PLTW program, and it is truly a great addition to any school system.

From what I have talked about with many of the mentors and professors at Purdue Calumet, it appears to be a great program for those looking to further their learning in the field of engineering.

Another great addition to our program is that since it begins before regular school hours, you can get the credit without missing out on any other school credits. We have also worked out in the partnership that PLTW in Hammond will also count as a college credit. This way if you attend college at Purdue you will have many of you’re intro classes out of the way.

I would recommend PLTW to every school district that sponsors FIRST teams. The program takes FIRST one step further, right into the classroom.

I think this upcoming school year will be the first time PLTW has been offered at Perry Meridian. I will be taking the class along with a few of my teammates.

We just started an engineering charter school in the tech department of my high school this last year. The curriculum was a home brew but things went well. We know what works- and what does not. Our teachers will be attending a training session this summer for the Project Lead the Way. The program will be in effect this school year. I got the chance to look through some of the brochures and saw the video at one of our board meetings. Looks interesting, I am intrigued and looking forward to being a part of it.

As Greg said, the School City of Hammond is integrating Project Lead the Way in their curriculum this school year. I believe 50 kids from the entire city were admitted based on previous experience, skills, and interest. Purdue University is working with the school city to help these kids acquire basic skills while still in high school.

My brother, Andrew, and Greg - both members of 71 - have been admitted to this program. My brother is very excited about what he will learn throughout this school year and is eager for the next school year to begin. I think it is very exciting for a kid his age - taking off from school every morning to go to Purdue University, learn about things that you think are fun, and applying that knowledge during the next build season of FIRST. Although I do not take to the technical side of FIRST, it makes me happy to see someone his age being offered this program. I hope many students benefit from PLTW.

Our school is currently in the process of adopting the PLTW curriculum, starting with my class(class of 2005). I really enjoy the classes so far, but since we’re the guinea pigs we’ve encountered some problems with the teachers adjusting to the curriculum and not quite understanding what they needed to cover and what we already knew from other classes. We’re going through the classes in a slightly weird order though. We did IED in 9th grade, CIM and POE in 10th, then DE for 11th and EDD for 12th. Its not all that different though since we take Physics as sophomores.

And to monsieurcoffee, there’s a LOT more to CIM than MasterCAM. That program is pure evil, we only spent a week or two on it before our teacher decided there were better things to do in class.

Heh, I took the DDP course this year for my fine art credit… like Yan said above, it was def NOT worth a year… or even half a year… I seriously learned nothing in that class that I didn’t easily teach myself. And most of the people in my class played games…

I’m taking Digital Electronics next year. I’m, um, not quite sure why… I’m even giving up half a year of lunch to take it :smiley:

i guess its just your teacher yan and Kristen… I have heard only praise from Ithaca but i guess the ddp teacher isn’t at par, well all i can say is wait for DE and take the class… I took it and learned allot (even from Abrham Michalins labs) though thats all another story… Keep all your response coming, I’m hoping to have enough responses after some time here, that i will forward to a pltw official and show them the praise and/or the constructive criticism from here…

~Mike

Andy Baker: I stated my experience with the class and also the experience of my many friends who have taken it and asked themselves the question, “wtf did I just do that for?”. In no way did I mean to imply (did I?) that the PLTW situation in our high school is what all PLTW courses are like in other schools. However, the curriculum is the same and looking through it, I found that I either knew it or could experiment with it during some free time rather than devoting a year-long course to it. The analogy of taking up a calculus book and memorizing it seems somewhat harsh. One does not become smart by memorizing and I don’t learn the PLTW curriculum by reading the huge textbooks which are never finished by the class. In my free time, I will have fun working with electronics, machining, or as I mentioned, looking at how mastercam works and then taking the time to go and do it for myself. Without doing anything, those memorized facts dissipate as fast as the sunshine here in Ithaca :slight_smile:

Andy Baker:
For our team, the students in the Inventor class get through their projects pretty quickly, and then they start working on FIRST stuff (heh… the teacher is on the team, and he has read these Forums for 4-5 years now). So even the motivated students can take the course, get ahead, and work on FIRST-team related stuff in their class time.

^^ In reference to that, that is one point that I tried to make. Many robotics members are in PLTW courses and as you said, they get through the activities quickly and thereby don’t pick up anything new from the CLASS itself. They instead go and work on robotics (the teacher is also on team and also ok with it) but that is not the course! So, what I’m trying to say is, the course itself didn’t teach them that much as Kristen mentioned: “I seriously learned nothing in that class that I didn’t easily teach myself. And most of the people in my class played games…”

My opinion still stands that the course is not a worthwhile pursuit for anyone doing robotics (considering how motivated and dedicated you have to be to work hard for 6 weeks) but may be for some people who have no engineering experience. However, even those people without any experience also seem to find the courses easy. I spend many of my free periods in the tech rooms (to work on robotics) and I note that people are rarely at work, and if they are yelled at enough to actually do some work, they do it quickly. I think PLTW would be a much better course if it required more out of the students. Otherwise, as Kristen mentioned, the students just play games, talk, and listen to music. Now, that may suggest to you that the teachers can’t control the class and to a certain extent, I find that true. But even when work is handed out, the people in the course whisper or put on their headphones. The situation of PLTW at our school is as mentioned, and that is what dez250 seems to be asking about. I cannot tell dez250 whether he’ll have a wonderful experience at his school with PLTW or whether he’ll be bored like us. But in any case, that is my experience and Kristen’s (I won’t vouch for anyone else’s but I can track down more people if you’d like further testimonies of class experiences) and it is not a worthy one.

i want to state one thing before furthering with this thread, that is that i have been through all but on PLTW course, and that is the EDD course which i will be taking next year. What it sounds like is your class(es) are not properly thought, i am not saying its a bad class or a bad teacher or a bad school, but the pltw courses have thought everyone i know who took them allot, even i will go to say that we have had our professional engineers work with the students after school sometimes during robotics with POE problems and they said that they remember stuff like that from after college and in the real world. i may be going out on a long shot here but it sounds like you (yan) ha vent taken any class other then DDP through PLTW.

~Mike

Please i don’t want this a bickering thread, as i just want some reply as to how you have all come across PLTW and also what you think of it, positive or negative.

No, in fact, I didn’t take any PLTW courses officially after interviewing some of the people who had taken them when I was in 8th grade. I sat in on the DDP course the first year during lunch and sat in on the electronics and also ddp during my free period this year. The course is taught fine, but I don’t think it moves fast enough. But that’s my opinion. For CIM next year, I’ve pretty much covered most of the stuff. The previous CIM guy (GregT) will be going off to RIT and not too many people next year will actually know how to use it (though quite a few will be taking the course). So w/e the course may teach, it’s not a challenge. I decided to take two AP sciences next year rather than fitting CIM in.

*Originally posted by monsieurcoffee *
**No, in fact, I didn’t take any PLTW courses officially after interviewing some of the people who had taken them when I was in 8th grade. **

*Originally posted by kristen *
I seriously learned nothing in that class that I didn’t easily teach myself.

I’m happy to see that such advanced students are involved with FIRST. However, many students do not have the advantage of going home and teaching themselves software, and many try to pick up skills that PLTW offers. PLTW was designed to help students interested in that type of career but have previously had little or no chance to learn or tinker around.

I do believe that PLTW wasn’t meant to cater to everyone’s engineering education, but rather to clue others into this field. While it appears that this program wasn’t exactly the type that would help you personally, your comments really make it seem as though the class is a waste of time for everyone. I really think a lot of FIRSTers could benefit, but what you’ve said almost makes it look bad simply because it was below your skill level and for no other reason.

*Originally posted by monsieurcoffee *
My opinion still stands that the course is not a worthwhile pursuit for anyone doing robotics (considering how motivated and dedicated you have to be to work hard for 6 weeks) but may be for some people who have no engineering experience.

I consider myself a very dedicated and motivated person during the six week build period, and I try to work hard at what I do. Yet rarely do I ever even touch the robot, help plan, or do any machining. Your comment kind of hurts my feelings - as though I shouldn’t be involved in this program because of my lack of engineering skills.

I wish you would reconsider that statement - apparently there are more people involved in FIRST than you happen to realize that haven’t previously had any kind of experience with actual engineering yet (or maybe they choose to have it that way). I don’t know if your class was taught within your high school by high school teachers, etc., or how different it will be from the program here taught by Purdue University. Considering what you’ve mentioned about your program, including playing games in the classroom and other such activities, it seems as though your program is a gross outcast from the norm. Everything that I’ve heard or seen about PLTW has been successful, and it sounds as though yours was a failure - a failure to inspire the students by using the curriculum.

like that of amandas post i would like to state that this course is not a program that should be looked at as just another class for joe teacher to come along and teach. PLTW is that of skills of college and it may not be fair for all schools because you may not have college professors teaching some of the classes or as in my case an nuclear engineer. it seems in your some cases the classes may be dumbed down due to a teachers lack of skills in that field. now coffee, i just want to ask if i was to give you a simple 3 throw lamp, could you draw a correct full schematic for that, because auto-cad itself and the DDP course is an introduction to schematics and multi-view and 3d drawings. now you may say PLTW is a waist of your time but as myself going to be a mechanical engineer i think that learning the correct way to measure stress and strain and moments of a bridge and also the basics and equations of thermodynamics may be useful in my future of college and also it gives me a large head start at NO cost (or in some schools a very low cost) of learning college material from a person that is qualified in his field, beyond that of a normal high school or prehigh school teacher , even that of a college professor.
~Mike

just my ranting for now.

Our school is looking to adopt PLTW in the next year but we simply cannot find a teacher capable of teaching it. Our current tech teacher/leader retired this year. There are simply no candidates out there to fill his place.

If anyone has a lead on a PLTW capable teacher in the central NJ area please let me know.

And for those who have these programs- treasure what you have.

WC

*Originally posted by monsieurcoffee *
**My opinion still stands that the course is not a worthwhile pursuit for anyone doing robotics (considering how motivated and dedicated you have to be to work hard for 6 weeks) but may be for some people who have no engineering experience. **

We’re gonna have to agree to disagree on this point. For my experience, I think that it is worthwhile.

This program has spread like wildfire across the nation over the past 3-4 years. This is no mistake. It may not be optimal for all students, but it is an excellent program for many, many students who are interested in engineering and/or on robotics teams.

Andy B.