For nearly 25 years, PLTW has offered transformative classroom and learning experiences for PreK-12 students. Now, many of those students are professionals in STEM fields. We recently reached out to several PLTW alumni to learn more about their educational and career journeys and find out what advice they have for current PLTW students. If you are a PLTW alumnus interested in sharing your story, we’d love to hear from you here.
Mia Martinez lives in Corpus Christi, Texas and is a PLTW Launch, PLTW Gateway, and robotics teacher at the School of Science and Technology – Corpus Christi. In high school, Mia completed Principles of Engineering, Introduction to Engineering Design, Civil Engineering and Architecture, and Engineering Design and Development in the PLTW Engineering program.
In what grades did you participate in PLTW? What were some of your most memorable experiences from PLTW?
I participated in PLTW as a freshman through to my senior year. Some of the most memorable experiences I had were the Engineering Olympics, being an academy ambassador, Laguna Beach outreach, going on college and university visits, the capstone project, and learning about the engineering design process, sketching and dimensioning, and Inventor software.
What did your journey look like to get to where you are today?
Out of high school, I attended Del Mar College to complete my basic core courses, and then transferred to Texas A&M University Corpus Christi where I studied STEM education. I worked in multiple STEM positions while in college. One of those positions was in the Education Department at Texas State Aquarium where I was able to practice creating educational programs, collaborating with other zoos and aquariums, and teaching informally to touring and visiting school, universities, and homeschool programs.
After working for the aquarium, I was offered a position at TT Electronics where I was a machinists technician and assisted engineers with production. I learned how to repair, operate, troubleshoot, and train operators on how to use these machines. While learning how to repair the machines, I learned to make parts with a 3D printer, and used my knowledge of CAD software to make missing or needed parts. I also assisted senior engineers with maximizing production and creating new processes or devices to help do so. TT Electronics relocated to north Texas in August 2020, which was perfect as I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in May 2021.
I was offered a job to teach PLTW and robotics to 5th and 6th grade students at the School of Science and Technology – Corpus Christi, which I happily accepted! Now with my first year of teaching down, I am relocating to the San Antonio, Texas area to continue teaching PLTW, start my graduate program in educational leadership, and one day be a director of my own PLTW program.
What did you learn in PLTW that still helps you today?
I learned that I could do anything if I work hard enough, that I’m the maker of my own future, and that I can break generational barriers. Now I can inspire other minority women to go into STEM careers!
Do you have any advice for current PLTW teachers?
From one PLTW teacher to another, have fun! It's okay to make accommodations for your classroom as you see fit. If you're like me, you feel that you must do it all but it’s okay to have fun and laugh with our students. We are most likely our students' favorite teachers and they will treasure these moments for a lifetime.
Do you have any advice for current PLTW students?
Enjoy the demonstrations, experiments, and different strategies. Take advantage of the networking opportunities, internships, job opportunities, and being part of a group that becomes your second family.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Being a part of PLTW was such an honor and amazing experience. I was able to set the expectations for my family as a first-generation graduate, oldest sibling, and a woman in STEM. I joined PLTW at my high school when it was only in its 2nd year of implementation, and since then, my three cousins have graduated from the program and are now in STEM careers. My youngest brother is also in the same program as me! It's nice to see how the program has grown and is able to offer more opportunities to students.
PLTW provides PreK-12 schools, teachers, and students with hands-on, interdisciplinary STEM-based curriculum that uniquely prepares students for life and their future careers.
PLTW rejuvenates teachers, providing world-class experiences that keep them on the forefront of how to prepare students for the demands of tomorrow. PLTW:
- Has provided professional development opportunities to more than 80,000 teachers giving them the support and resources needed to inspire students
- Offers best-in-class teacher training: PLTW Core Training with Master Teachers
- Continuously updates teacher resources that are available on demand
- Facilitates teacher networking opportunities
- Develops curriculum by a team of writers, many of whom are former teachers
Learn more about PLTW on pltw.org