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University of Central Missouri
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Oct. 17, 2008) – Approximately one year after becoming the second university in the United States to meet certification requirements for the internationally acclaimed secondary engineering organization, Project Lead the Way, UCM has a new connection to this initiative. Michael Wright, dean of the UCM College of Education, was recently named to the PLTW National Advisory Board.
Wright said he was appointed to the post indefinitely, by virtue of his position as an education dean. He is the only representative of this 12-member group who is dean of a college of education.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be part of a program that is literally transforming education in America and is endorsed by so many high-level corporate and educational leaders,” Wright said.
Addressing the Nationwide Shortage of Engineers
A non-profit organization headquartered in Clifton Park, N.Y., PLTW was launched a decade ago to help the nation address the shortage of engineers. The organization has established a rigorous curriculum that is designed to prepare a diverse group of students to be successful in science, engineering and engineering technology. This curriculum is now available in approximately 3,000 schools in 50 states across the nation, and high school students who successfully complete the courses and pass national college exams have the potential to earn university credits before they enter college. UCM in 2007 became certified to offer pre-service training for technology education majors so they can become qualified to teach national PLTW courses.
In addition to serving on the PLTW National Advisory Board, Wright is collaborating as co-author with Ben Yates, program coordinator for technology education at UCM, and George Rogers, a Purdue University professor, on a textbook that will be used in the PLTW Middle School Program: Gateway to Technology. This is an activity-oriented program, divided into five independent, nine-week units, that is intended to challenge and engage the curiosity of students. Part of a series, the textbook will be available this spring.
A Connection with the Corporate Sector
Wright is also helping to keep engineering and technology leaders at some of the largest technology companies in the nation connected to K-12 education through his recent appointment to a division of the Corporate Member Council of the American Society for Engineering Education. He was named to the council’s College Industry Partnership Division, which fosters the development and improvement of education/industry partnerships in all areas pertaining to engineering and allied branches of sciences and technology.
As a member of this division, Wright is part of the special interest group known as the K-12 Science, Engineering and Technology Workforce/STEM Career Cluster National Advisory Council.
“Career clusters are part of a national education movement,” Wright said. “There are 16 different families of careers that have been embraced by the U.S. Department of Education, and one of those families is STEM, the connection between science, technology, engineering and math (known in Missouri as METS).”
In working with the advisory council, Wright most recently helped develop a rubric or listing of criteria to be used in evaluating the effectiveness of extra-curricular outreach programs for K-12 students. Such outreach programs are usually designed and supported by community-based organizations to increase knowledge, skills, and capabilities in specific areas in which engineering, engineering technology, mathematics and science are key to the activity.
Wright said his STEM-related activities have a strong connection to PLTW. The National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education consortium, which transformed career and technical education into the career cluster framework, has chosen PLTW as the model agency for the STEM Career Cluster.