Industry Tours Offer Teachers Perspective on Career Connections
Just as students benefit from seeing real-world applications for what they learn in the classroom, PLTW teachers also benefit from industry visits to understand the vast array of career opportunities connected to STEM education. Recently, PLTW teachers and administrators toured Steel Dynamics Structural & Rail Division in Columbia City, Indiana, and SDI La Farga in New Haven, Indiana. PLTW alumnus Landon Pearson, who currently works for Steel Dynamics as a caster/ladle metallurgy furnace mechanical engineer, participated in the tours.
“The tours provided an opportunity for PLTW teachers and administrators to learn more about careers in the steel industry,” Pearson said. “It is our hope they will share with their students the high-tech, high-paying jobs that are available. My role (in the tours) is to tell my story of how PLTW classes influenced my future and career.”
Pearson began in grade 7 with PLTW Gateway and continued with PLTW Engineering through grade 11 at Churubusco Jr./Sr. High School in Churubusco, Indiana. He credits the PLTW programs with developing his passion for engineering. His PLTW courses were his first exposure to engineering and problem solving. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Trine University.
In his career, Pearson still uses skills that he gained in PLTW classrooms. “It taught me how to work through projects systematically (i.e. brain storming, concept section, design, prototype, testing, revisions, etc.),” he said. “I also learned the importance of teamwork. My goal is to become a supervisor in a managerial-type role and to lead a winning team. PLTW taught me the basics of teamwork on projects and how to overcome roadblocks when solving problems.”
The tours gave teachers and administrators a better understanding of careers and internship opportunities at Steel Dynamics and other steel companies, as well as scholarships available through the Association for Iron & Steel Technology (AIST).
“I would encourage teachers to talk to their students about the different options available to them after high school,” Pearson said. “A four-year degree is not always required to obtain a well-paying job. Companies like Steel Dynamics offer a very competitive salary and the opportunity for growth for students without college degrees, too. The most important part is to help the student discover what their passion may be.”