The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

August 11, 2010

Course for the future

Windber schools launch high-tech education program

WINDBER  — When Windber Area School District students return to classes at the end of the month, they’ll discover some cutting-edge technology.

The district has launched its integrated prekindergarten through grade 12 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Initiative that will promote education in these and related fields so students are better prepared to study STEM fields in college and pursue STEM-related careers.

On Wednesday, district officials toured the newly renovated technology and engineering education classrooms in the high school and displayed some of the recently purchased equipment.

“We saw what was coming down the road with technology education, so we wanted to look at this systematically and with a planned approached,” said Glenn Gaye Jr., the district’s director of education. “For about a year to

15 months we did school and college visits and spoke to business leaders to see what we needed to do to put this together.”

The curriculum the district is implementing, Engineering by Design, will be used by students in grades six through 12, with grade five being introduced to technology and engineering concepts in January. As the program grows  through the years, the curriculum will be expanded to younger students.

Along with a variety of computers, smartboards and flat-screen TVs, the classrooms have been outfitted with a state-of-the-art plasma cutting machine, laser printer, simulation printer and a 3D printer that allows students to reproduce a plastic prototype of things they have created and drawn.

“These machines expose kids to industry standard materials,” said Tim Saylor, a tecnology and engineering teacher. “Students are using all the same hardware but on a smaller scale.”

Saylor said students have expressed an interest in the program already and the classes are full.

“The program sells itself,” he said.

“This allows our kids to be more competitive when they enter into the work force.”

Because of the new curriculum, the district plans to create a Technology Student Association in which students will design a project that represents the engineering/technology field. They then will compete with other school districts on a state and national level.

Gaye Jr. said the equipment was purchased with district money that was allotted for the program and through grant and local funding.

“We are in this for the long run and it’s a long-term goal of the district to see this initiative grow,” he said.

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