Project Lead The Way (PLTW) was created to address the country’s need for more leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
In 1986, Richard Blais, chairman of the technology department in the Shenendehowa Central School District in Upstate New York, began offering pre-engineering and digital electronics classes to encourage students to study engineering. He developed a rigorous, relevant curriculum and paired it with a dynamic, interactive learning environment to produce more successful, confident and interested students. Based on the success of these classes, Blais partnered with Richard Liebich, whose family founded the Charitable Leadership Foundation (CLF), to establish PLTW.
In 1997, PLTW launched its “Pathway To Engineering” program in 12 New York State high schools. Over the next few years, a partnership with the High Schools That Work initiative of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) brought PLTW programs to an additional 30 states.
Today, PLTW is the nation’s leading activities-, project-, and problem-based (APPB) program for middle and high school STEM education. More than 4,700 schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia are offering PLTW courses to their students.
- PLTW launches the Pathway To Engineering curriculum at 12 high schools in Upstate New York.
- PLTW becomes a national program with the addition of two New Hampshire schools.
- Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, New York, becomes the first PLTW National Affiliate University and hosts the first PLTW teacher training for 79 educators.
- The school certification program is established.
- Autodesk, the world’s leading supplier of advanced 2D and 3D design, digital content creation, and project collaboration software tools, generously supports PLTW by providing some of the basic software packages for PLTW courses.
- PLTW curriculum is aligned with National Standards.
- PLTW launches its college-level recognition program.
- PLTW launches the Gateway To Technology (GTT) program for middle schools.
- Intel Corporation partners with PLTW, offers cash grants and computer donations to PLTW schools, provides internships and job-shadowing opportunities to students and participates in special events designed to promote awareness of engineering and technology careers.
- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) partners with PLTW.
- The U.S. Department of Education recommends PLTW as an exemplary program.
- “Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Engaging and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future,” a report from the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine, recommends creating “K-12 curriculum materials based on world-class standards.”
- New York Senator Hillary Clinton introduces PLTW to the United States Senate.
- Autodesk enters into an exclusive five-year agreement with PLTW. The pact gives PLTW schools using the Autodesk Design Academy software package access to the company’s vast support network, comprising more than 100 sales and technical personnel.
- The Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), the premier trade association representing the nation’s major aerospace and defense manufacturers, officially endorses PLTW.
- The Bayer Foundation recognizes PLTW as a K-12 Best Practices STEM Education Program.
- First PLTW National Symposium now known as the National Innovation Summit takes place.
- The first PLTW Model Schools are recognized.
- PLTW's Biomedical Sciences program is introduced to the PLTW Network behind funding from Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Carolina.
- South Dakota is the 50th state to join the PLTW Network.
- The Kern Family Foundation, through a $10 million grant, made a major commitment for the expansion of the PLTW program.
- The new look of PLTW is unveiled.
- The Chevron World Challenge showcases PLTW as one of its Tournament Nonprofit Partners.
- PLTW Partners with VEX Robotics to bring cutting-edge technology and equipment into PLTW classrooms.
- PLTW honors teachers, students, and an organization with Innova Awards for Imagination, Innovation, and Learning at the National PLTW Innovation Summit held in Washington, DC.
- PLTW and AGI collaborate to bring software used by NASA to PLTW Aerospace Engineering students.
- U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan calls PLTW one of the “great models of the new CTE succeeding all across the country.”
- In its report, "Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century," the Harvard Graduate School of Education calls PLTW a "model for 21st century career and technical education."
- Dr. Vince M. Bertram is appointed as the new CEO of PLTW.
- The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) signs a memorandum of understanding with PLTW to strengthen educational content and learning opportunities in STEM subjects.
- The PLTW program is featured at a STEM Education Congressional Briefing on Capitol Hill.
- PLTW is endorsed by the STEM Advisory Council for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a valuable statewide STEM initiative.
- PLTW announces the relocation of its national headquarters to Indianapolis.
- PLTW experiences record growth of 20 percent, reaching into 4,782 schools with 5,211 programs.
- PLTW announces intentions to offer a new GTT unit, Medical Detectives, focused around biomedical sciences. The unit will be piloted in the 2013 spring semester and available to all schools offering GTT for the 2013-14 school year.
- A new PTE course, Computer Science and Software Engineering, is announced. The course will pilot in the 2013-14 school year and be available to all schools in 2014-15.
- PLTW announces plans for a new elementary curriculum to engage students at a younger age. The curriculum is under development.