Pike Centrals PLTW Program Wows CEO

PETERSBURG, Ind. (October 14, 2011) - There is an emergency shelter with solar power and a water filtration system in the Project Lead The Way (PLTW) shop at Pike Central High School that student Colton Newton proudly shows off. He and his fellow PLTW students won an award for it at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) last summer. The shelter impressed PLTW President and CEO Dr. Vince Bertram during his visit to the school Thursday afternoon.

Students at Pike Central High School make up one of the country’s most-recognized PLTW programs for the successes they produce; the unique hands-on experiences they take part in; and the business, community, and higher-education relationships they cultivate. Over 50 percent of Pike Central students are enrolled in PLTW courses, including both Biomedical Sciences and Pathway to Engineering programs. Thursday, students showed off projects that many only dream of creating well into their careers: the award-winning emergency shelter, mobile apps for southwest Indiana businesses, a method for killing E. coli bacteria in water, and turning a Humvee into a remotely-controlled vehicle.

“This is my hope of what can be replicated throughout the country,” Bertram told city, county, and business leaders during the Pike County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Growth and Development Council Annual Dinner. “It’s clear that students here in the PLTW program at Pike Central are challenged to think differently. All the things we want for our students, I had a chance to observe at Pike Central—the chance to see great teachers, the chance to see brilliant students and how they think.”

The Pike County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Growth and Development Council invited Bertram to serve as the keynote speaker for the dinner because of the importance they place on the students in the Project Lead The Way programs. “PLTW is important not just to Pike County, but to Indiana and the nation as a whole,” said Paul Lake, executive director of the Economic Growth and Development Council. “The best and brightest are coming up through school, and we need to figure out a way to foster their entrepreneurialism and innovation in our communities, rather than sending them off to a large city to chase a job.”

Bertram told students and Pike County program leaders he learned a great deal from them during his visit as well and says he plans to take those observations back with him to continue to build on the Project Lead The Way experience for all students. Bertram says he will be telling the nation about the model he has seen at Pike Central High School.