YPSILANTI (WWJ) — General Motors Co. will grant Project Lead The Way programs in Michigan with a $300,000 three-year renewable commitment.

John Calabrese, GM vice president of global vehicle engineering, announced the grant Aug. 2.at the Eastern Michigan University Student Center. Also participating in the announcement were Vince Bertram, president and CEO of Project Lead The Way; Leigh Greden, vice president for government and community relations at EMU; and John Dugger, director of Michigan’s Project Lead The Way affiliate partnership at Eastern Michigan.

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Project Lead The Way is the nation’s leading non-profit provider of science, technology, engineering and math curriculum for middle and high schools throughout the United States.

Unlike traditional math and science courses, PLTW’s engineering and biomedical sciences curricula brings together the application of math and science principles in a real-world context, helping students develop strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills that will prepare them for college and careers.

“In order to ensure our leadership in the automotive industry, and advance our innovative transportation solutions, we need to always look for opportunities to strengthen our involvement with science and math education programs,” Calabrese said. “It is essential that the next generation of professionals has the skills and education necessary to compete on a global platform, particularly as it pertains to STEM-related fields.”

There are currently 122 schools offering PLTW programs in Michigan. Through GM’s generous support of $300,000 per year for the next three years, a potential 24 additional schools could gain access to the PLTW curricula. Students in these schools, as a result, will be better equipped to compete on a global platform and fulfill the workforce demands in STEM-related fields. Schools that receive grant funds will use the dollars to pay program participation fees, purchase classroom supplies and equipment, and send teachers to PLTW’s Core Training professional development program at Eastern Michigan.

This is an important program, said Calabrese, because one of GM’s goals is to identify talented young STEM leaders through elementary and secondary programming and continue to foster their development and entry into the workforce.

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“Project Lead The Way ensures that U.S. schools succeed in preparing students in our increasingly high-tech and high-skill economy,” said EMU’s John Dugger. “This program is our country’s leading provider of rigorous STEM classes. It is a hands-on program that engages students on multiple levels to promote critical thinking, creativity, innovation and real-world problem-solving skills.”

Eastern Michigan has been the state affiliate since 2007, said Paul Kuwik, the program’s state director.

Dugger, Kuwik and their EMU team of PLTW-trained master teachers recruit schools; arrange and conduct summer training for teachers; assist schools during the implementation process; handle articulation of courses for college credit; engage faculty support, and maintain a statewide communication network. EMU’s School of Technology Studies and its College of Technology provide a home and support for the program.

Each PLTW high school course ends with an end-of-course exam to gauge student performance, and all PLTW courses are aligned with rigorous academic standards. Upon completing the program and end-of-course test, students can earn college credit at numerous universities including Eastern Michigan University, Kettering University, Iowa State University, Purdue University and the University of Iowa.

“We are thrilled that GM has invested in Michigan’s future through support of PLTW and the students our programs serve,” said Vince Bertram, PLTW’s president and CEO. “Students who take PLTW courses exercise communication, critical-thinking, and problem-solving skills that engage their minds and interests in science, technology, engineering, and math while developing attributes employers and post-secondary institutions seek. In essence, GM is helping PLTW prepare students for the global economy and the demands of the 21st century workforce. This is a perfect example of a private/public partnership that ultimately benefits not only Michigan, but our nation.”

Project Lead The Way is the leading provider of rigorous and innovative STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education curricular programs used in schools. As a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, PLTW exists to prepare students for the global economy through its world-class curriculum, high-quality professional development and an engaged network of educators, students, universities and professionals. PLTW’s comprehensive curriculum has been collaboratively designed by administrators to promote critical thinking, creativity, innovation and real-world problem solving skills in students. The hands-on, project-based program engages students on multiple levels, exposes them to areas of study that they typically do not pursue, and provides them with a foundation and proven path to college and career success.

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More than 4,700 schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia are currently offering PLTW courses to their students. For more information, visit http://www.pltw.org.