Lockheed Martin named the Fort Worth Independent School District as the latest system to be awarded one of its $1-million, multi-year grants to expand its “science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)” programs, for students on both college- and career-focused tracks. Previously, the defense aerospace OEM has made comparable grants to school districts in Orange County, Fla., Huntsville, Ala., and Washington, D.C.
The STEM acronym is used frequently in discussions of education policy and curriculum choices in regard to a perceived need for U.S. elementary, middle, and high schools (K-12) to improve students’ preparation for college and careers in high-technology fields.
The Lockheed funds will cover Fort Worth’s implementation costs, including teacher training, software, classroom equipment, and supplies.
In addition, Lockheed Martin engineers will volunteer in classrooms, offering their experience to students as role models and mentors.
The activity-based curriculum Lockheed is supporting for the local districts is offered by Project Lead The Way (PLTW), and emphasizes the importance of problem-solving strategies, critical and creative thinking, and how to communicate and collaborate. The PLTW program is intended to help students to develop “in-demand knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in an evolving world.”
Fort Worth ISD is the fourth school district to expand STEM programming through Lockheed Martin's $6-million, national agreement with PLTW to expand STEM programs in selected urban school districts.
Six new schools in Fort Worth will begin offering PLTW programs for the 2015-16 school year. Over the term of the grant, with matching support from other partners in the Fort Worth community, every elementary, middle and high school in the district will have an opportunity to implement a PLTW program of study, according to Lockheed.
Lockheed Martin has committed $6 million nationally to expand PLTW programs in select U.S. urban school districts. In addition to Fort Worth, Lockheed Martin has similar partnerships with Orange County, Florida, Huntsville, Alabama and Washington, D.C. The grant funding covers implementation costs, including PLTW teacher professional development training, software, classroom equipment and supplies. In addition, Lockheed Martin engineers will volunteer in classrooms at the participating schools, building relationships with students as role models and mentors.
"This partnership gives our talented workforce the opportunity to share the excitement of STEM directly with the students and provide another connection between the classroom and real-world application," said Orlando Carvalho, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. "This is another aspect of our commitment to our Fort Worth community, where Lockheed Martin and its predecessor companies have had a presence for more than 70 years."
Expanding student access to STEM education is an issue of national prosperity and security. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that, by 2018, STEM-related jobs in the U.S. will grow by 17 percent, nearly double the rate of jobs in non-STEM fields. The Department estimates 1.2 million unfilled STEM jobs by 2018, due to a lack of qualified, trained workers. Expanding access to STEM education for underrepresented minority students is also of great interest; only 10 percent of U.S. scientists and engineers come from underrepresented minority groups.
"The partnership between Lockheed Martin and Fort Worth ISD, using PLTW's programs, is a model for how public and private partnerships can help solve the education and workforce development challenges facing our nation," said PLTW President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Vince Bertram. "We are grateful for Lockheed Martin's leadership and the opportunities they are creating for students in Fort Worth and other urban areas."