OC schools expand STEM with $2m investment from Lockheed Martin

Posted on 6 Feb 2015 by Tim Brown
Schools urged to nurture engineering mindset
Schools are being urged to nurture an engineering mindset.

Lockheed Martin has announced a new $2m, multi-year grant to support the expansion of college and career-focused science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs for all Orange County Public Schools.

The STEM curriculum is offered through Project Lead The Way (PLTW), the nation’s leading provider of K-12 STEM programs.

OCPS is the second urban school district to expand STEM programming through Lockheed Martin’s national agreement with PLTW. Through the grant, 40 schools will begin offering PLTW programs for the 2015-16 school year. Over the course of the grant, every OCPS elementary, middle and high school will have the opportunity to implement a PLTW program of study.

“Orange County Public Schools has enjoyed a tremendous partnership with Lockheed Martin and Project Lead The Way for several years,” said OCPS Superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins. “We are extremely grateful for this generous grant which will significantly improve the STEM experience for all of our students.”

Lockheed Martin has committed $6 million nationally to expand PLTW programs in select U.S. urban school districts. Schools that receive grant funding can use the funds to pay for PLTW program participation fees, teacher professional development training, and 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 interact one-on-one with students and share the excitement of STEM,” said Rick Edwards, executive vice president at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “This is another aspect of our commitment to the economic wellbeing and development of the Orlando area, where Lockheed Martin and its predecessor companies have had a presence for almost 60 years.”

Dale Bennett, executive vice president at Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training, added, “Through PLTW, we hope students will be energized to pursue STEM careers and understand they can help our world overcome complex challenges by pushing the boundaries of scientific discovery. STEM education is critically important to our nation and the future of its technology-based industries.”

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.