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NOBLESVILLE — Project Lead the Way is an Indiana company that is inspiring the next generation of the state's workforce by teaching them career skills through "learning by doing."
A senior at Noblesville High School, Brady Anderson, is a student of Project Lead the Way.
"Project Lead the Way has been like one of those classes that was more so one of those classes that was teaching me a mindset more than anything else," Anderson said.
Project Lead the Way is a provider of STEM education programs in engineering, biomedical science and computer science with a primary focus on career learning.
Noblesville Schools offers 14 different Project Lead the Way courses for middle and high school classes. It is one of only a few districts in the state to offer the programming for K-12, with elementary students exploring flight, energy, robotics, and more.
Anderson has used his learning in the classroom with Project Lead the Way to pursue his entrepreneurial endeavors outside the classroom.
"Most recently I have been doing some freelance app development for a few individuals around Noblesville and Fishers," Anderson said." I have also been working on this drone machine learning software. So what I have been doing with that is I have been working with a drone that is able to appraise a house. And, my friend and I have started a business together where we are teaching little kids how to fly drones and explore different applications of drone technology."
Andrew Wilkins is the Project Lead the Way coordinator at Noblesville High School, re-inventing the way students learn in the classroom by making the course work relevant.
"What we have found that these students actually develop some grit in these courses," Wilkins said. "They learn how to persevere through challenges, how failing isn't really a problem unless you don't choose to overcome that failure and work towards a better solution."
The president and CEO of Project Lead the Way is Vince Bertram. His objective is to empower students so they have transformable, high-demand skills that companies are looking for.
"I think across the state of Indiana, and certainly across the country, we have a lot of jobs that we are unable to fill," Bertram said. "A lot of students don't have the skills or the aspirations to pursue those types of opportunities. So our mission is to ensure we provide and inspire an engaging and empowering student experience so they see the possibilities and they understand the relevancy of what they are learning in elementary, middle, and high school."
Bertram says the skills students gain in these courses lead to great career opportunities which is what drives the economy forward.
"We help Hoosiers because we give students aspirations and skills, high demand, transportable skills that companies are looking for," Bertram said. "We work directly with companies across the state of Indiana as well as around the country and helping them recruit our students and make connections with them."
Project Lead the Way is in more than 11,500 schools nationwide with millions of students participating in these courses that have a hands-on focus of activity-problem-project based learning.
For Anderson, he learned how to create success with growing from failure.
"I think it's laying the ground work for long term success and happiness for me," Anderson said. "I think once you master a mindset in whatever field you are interested in, you can definitely go in any direction that you want to go."
Anderson is going to be a freshman in the fall at Indiana University Bloomington, studying computer science.
Along with providing a STEM education for Hoosier students, Project Lead the Way has brought jobs to Indiana as well. The company started in 1997 in upstate New York. In 2011, they moved to Indianapolis and Bertram says since the relocation, Project Lead the Way has grown from 30 team members to about 280.
"Not only are we working with students in the state of Indiana, we are also an Indiana company that is really focused on creating great jobs, great opportunities for people to inspire a nation of children and so it is exciting work and so we are excited to be here in Indianapolis," Bertram said.
Parents, employers and universities can engage with Project Lead the Way schools by heading to their website at www.pltw.org . From a school perspective, the organization has directors of school engagement that can help any school to get started, to expand, and to grow their Project Lead the Way programs.