The Boeing Co. has donated $150,000 to the University of Missouri-Rolla to support the university’s work to introduce engineering to Missouri’s middle and high schools.
Project Lead the Way, a national high school and middle school pre-engineering curriculum, is designed to attract higher numbers of young people to careers in technology and engineering. As Missouri’s lead affiliate, UMR works with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as well as with two associate affiliates, St. Louis Community College and Central Missouri State University, to coordinate the introduction of the program’s four-year sequence of courses to schools in the state.
Boeing’s donation will help the university develop and expand the state’s Project Lead the Way program. The gift will also apply as a match toward a $387,000 previous gift from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City.
“The Boeing-UMR relationship will benefit students for years,” says Randy Maier, education relations manager for Boeing. “Boeing couldn’t ask for a better partner to assist Missouri teachers than the university.”
The program’s curriculum focuses on activities and team-based projects that give students the chance to work with their hands and see how math fits into those activities, says Dr. Ralph Flori, who is leading the program’s efforts in the state.
“We would like to see Project Lead the Way offered to every high school in the state of Missouri,” says Flori, associate professor of interdisciplinary engineering and associate dean of engineering for pre-college and undergraduate affairs. “That’s a big goal but it’s probably that necessary. You’ve got many kids in high school who seem to float through, not really engaged, who aren’t sure of what to do with their lives. Project Lead the Way classes will help them discover and be prepared for an exciting career in a technology or engineering field.”
Project Lead the Way was first developed in the 1980s by Richard Blais, who was then chair of the technology department of an upstate New York school district. The program is now offered in 49 states and the District of Columbia. For more information about Project Lead the Way, visit www.pltw.org.
Boeing, the largest employer of UMR graduates, also sponsored an alumni reception for nearly 100 guests at their facilities, where UMR Chancellor John F. Carney III gave a campus update and accepted the company’s donation.