Issues for Universities Working With K- 2 Institutions Implementing Prepackaged Pre-Engineering Curricula such as Project Lead the Way

  • Kenneth J. Reid
  • Charles R. Feldhaus
Keywords: K-12 pre-engineering programs


The implementation of pre-engineering, standard curricula in K-12 schools is growing at a rapid pace. One such curriculum model, Project Lead the Way, consists of six standardized courses requiring significant training for teachers, specified laboratory equipment, standard topics, exams, etc. Schools implementing Project Lead the Way implement an entire series of courses and commit to each aspect of the program in order to become a certified Project Lead the Way school. This implementation typically requires significant change for the schools, often requiring funding, building renovation, laboratory development and requirements for teachers and guidance counselors. Schools are also required to invite industry and academia to form an advisory board. This particular program has grown from 13 schools with 1100 students in 1997-1998 to 65,000 students in 43 states by 2004. The state of Indiana has encouraged schools to adopt the program, and has over 120 school districts with over 20,000 students in Project Lead the Way. This paper will detail issues involving higher education institutions working with high schools implementing prepackaged Review of the Literature: In a recent publication by the National Academy of Engineering titled, The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century, the authors discuss a vision for the future of engineering and engineering technology {1}. The authors ask if it serves the nation well to permit the engineering profession and engineering education to lag technology and society, especially as technological change occurs at a faster and faster pace.or, should the engineering profession anticipate needed advances and prepare for a future where it will provide more benefit to human-kind{1}? The study suggests that if the engineering profession is to take the initiative in defining its own future it must proactively deal with five issues: 1) agreement on an exciting vision for the future; 2) curricula, including assisting in identifying funding sources, teacher training, and laboratory development. Model articulation agreements will be presented. This discussion will apply to a growing number of institutions of higher learning as more K-12 standards are adjusted to include technology or pre-engineering. The principles discussed here will help any K-12 and higher education institutions work together to more effectively promote engineering at the K-12 level, and will apply to any pre-engineering curriculum. Additional Internet links available in the paper will direct interested parties to sample articulation agreements, and supplemental material available for some of the courses suitable for use by teachers or students. This paper will also detail issues from the K-12 sector, including effectively incorporating these courses in student schedules, and dealing with state and national standards. The authors have extensive experience, having assisted area K-12 schools in efforts to implement pre-engineering curricula, including the establishment of articulation agreements with these schools and assistance in securing necessary funding.