Project Lead the Way (PLTW) is a national leading provider of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs. PLTW aims to help K-12 students develop the skills and expertise needed to succeed in these industries by offering students activities, projects, problem-based learning and hands-on classroom experience.
More than 6,500 schools across the U.S. offer the PLTW solution including Woodstock North High School where Tim Shoemaker, a senior associate of RTM Engineering Consultants, presented to 60 students ranging from freshman to seniors. The Woodstock Community Unit School District 200 offers a variety of PLTW courses including Introduction to Engineering, Computer Integrated Manufacturing, Digital Electronics and more. Since this high school is a Project Lead the Way certified school, students who successfully complete any courses in this program may be eligible for scholarships, college credit or priority admittance to colleges and universities affiliated with PLTW.
In his presentation, Shoemaker created a context for the STEM fields by providing the students with a history of power and explaining how engineering has been in existence for many years. Then bringing it back to present day, Shoemaker explained what it means to be an engineer in today’s world. He noted that students may experience certain habits or characteristics, such as being great at math and having a curiosity to figure out how things work, that point to the STEM fields being a good fit. He also had students laughing with Jeff Foxworthy-style quips, joking that, “You know you’re an engineer if…” you own a scientific calculator or two, for example.
The presentation proved to be a success, and had several students asking questions following Shoemaker’s talk.
PLTW and Shoemaker’s presentation brings to light the importance of providing a STEM education from an early age to students who express an interest in these fields in order to help them develop necessary background knowledge and expertise throughout their schooling. Presentations such as this encourage younger generations to follow their passion for STEM studies, and these types of discussions offer students real world applications to show them the importance of what they are learning.
Shoemaker’s project experience includes industrial subdivisions, parking lot and roadway design, stormwater management and detention system design and more. Additionally, he has more than 21 years of experience in site development projects for schools, park districts, commercial sites and municipal projects, from planning and design to construction.