Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

February 6, 2006

School program leading the way

Kokomo, state prime participants in national engineering program

One decision Steve Healy made as superintendent of Kokomo-Center Schools in 2000 continues to resonate through the corporation today.

Healy made the decision to integrate Project Lead the Way — a pre-engineering program designed to lead students into the profession — into Kokomo High School’s curriculum.

“He was the first superintendent to start the project in Indiana,” said Michael O’Hair, associate dean for statewide technology and engagement who oversees Purdue University’s Project Lead the Way involvement and co-chairman of the Indiana PLTW Leadership Team.

“He’s a pioneer. I let everyone know this started in Kokomo. It was offered the first time in Kokomo and now it is in 135 schools.

“He implemented this before Purdue even got involved officially.”

Project Lead the Way promotes partnerships between education and the private sector with the hope of increasing the quality and the number of engineers graduating from American colleges and universities.

Nearly 1,800 students in Kokomo-Center schools are involved in PLTW. Statewide, the numbers stand at about 14,000 in 135 schools. That’s second only to New York, where the program began in 1997-98.

Nationwide, PLTW is in 1,300 schools in 45 states.

O’Hair introduced Healy to PLTW.

“He’d asked me to come and take a look at a program that was coming out. Dick Blaze of the University of Rochester did the presentation,” Healy recalled. “Mike asked me what I thought.

“I said it sounded great. We’ve all been involved in projects that come and go and we decided that we were willing to give it a try for a year or so. After that, it sold itself.”

The work begun by Healy, now superintendent of Eastern Howard Schools, and O’Hair, and the success the project has had in Indiana has led to the state organization being recognized by the national office.

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