March Community Award Spotlight: Woodrow Wilson High School Academy of Engineering and Computer Science

Every day, members of our communities rise to meet unexpected challenges. From children to parents and from caregivers to businesses, we have all been asked to step up and become leaders. We’ve faced and pivoted to adapt and grow through our everchanging world due to unforeseen events that affect our daily lives. No action is too small, and together our impact is large.

Your actions should be recognized and celebrated. Our communities are the foundation of our society, and we stand stronger together. PLTW is proud to celebrate diverse communities and its members who exhibit collaboration, leadership, and entrepreneurship in service across the nation. As a result, we have created the PLTW Community Celebration Awards to recognize communities that have come together to care for each other in times of need. Join us in celebrating the following community this month!

For nearly a year and a half, the Woodrow Wilson High School Academy of Engineering and Computer Science – in collaboration with the Woodrow Wilson Robocats FIRST Robotics teams, Woodrow Robotics Boosters, Woodrow Wilson Alumni Association, and numerous other local partners and organizations – have supported their community through a variety of efforts. Woodrow Wilson High School is part of the Dallas Independent School District in Dallas, Texas.

Highlights of their activities include:

  • The academy hosted 106 girls in grades 4-10 from across the Dallas-Fort Worth area in a full day of STEM activities as part of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Dallas Design Your World initiative. More than 120 SWE Dallas volunteers helped to staff and support the event, including assisting with sessions for students and parents.
  • The academy hosted a FIRST Tech Challenge Tournament for 32 Dallas-Fort Worth area robotics teams. Over 100 volunteers helped with set up, hosting, judging, and take down of the event.
  • The academy mobilized 20 3D printers and collaborated with professional mentors from Texas Instruments, friends from St. John's Episcopal School in Lakeland, and students and leaders from the Alliance for Excellence in Youth Leadership in McKinney, Texas, to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for over 3,500 health care workers and first responders. PPE was deployed across North Texas, as well as to Arkansas, New York, and Canada. They conducted a social media campaign to raise over $15,000 to support the cost of materials and production. PPE included over 3,000 face shields and over 250 surgical masks, as well as more than 250 custom-designed contactless door openers.
  • The academy’s PLTW instructors worked with another area Dallas ISD school, Hillcrest High School Academy of Engineering, and over a dozen professional mentors from the ASCE Dallas Chapter and the ACE Mentoring program to launch cross-campus project teams during spring 2020 in response to distance-learning challenges. These teams developed design proposals for COVID-19 Emergency Facilities for the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
  • Coaching staff, professional mentors, and student members of the Woodrow Wilson Robocats helped to train 100 teachers from other high schools, as well as elementary and middle schools, on the use of their 3D printers. The training was part of a grant program for Dallas-Fort Worth Schools provided by Unique Software Development, in partnership with the Mark Cuban Foundation and The Workshop by TBK Bank.

“Our community partners have consistently invested with us over the years to give us many learning and leadership opportunities that help us see and create the impact we can have in our community,” Ruby Rodriguez, a Woodrow Wilson High School senior, said. “So, when challenges and opportunities arise for us to come together with our partners and invite others in our community to join us, we are inspired to put what we have been learning into action. We know that positive change is possible and take the resources we have and use them to do something that matters. The community projects that we engage in are more than just projects that are part of courses; they help show us what we want to do with our lives.”