"It's corporate philanthropy at its best."
With these words, Acting Governor Jane Swift recently announced to state officials, parents, and school administrators the Partnership of Innovative Learning as an initiative to teach design and technology as academic subjects. She made her announcement during her visit to the largely Latino community of students at the Raphael Hernandez School, the first school in Boston to work on this partnership with PTC (Needham, MA).
Mike Camoscio, a 17-year old student at another Massachusetts school outside of Boston, uses PTC's software almost daily and has worked on several projects, one in which he manipulated a model of an air conditioning unit. Camoscio says, "I am fascinated by 3D models and the control I have over an object as its materials change." Camoscio says he is planning to apply to several engineering schools in the New England area.
This, in and of itself, is exactly PTC's goal. PTC began this program in September of 1999 when it granted 3D modeling software to the U.K. Department for Education and Skills. And it continues to back technology education today in Massachusetts with its gift of millions of dollars worth of software grants. As a result, Massachusetts became the first state in the United States to formulate K-12 curriculum standards for engineering and science in late 2002.
The program is planned to enhance the critical-thinking skills necessary for young people to meet the demands of a computer-based world by offering software and free teacher training to every school in the state. Swift says, "The entire community needs to get involved with the design software. It will help students to achieve skills and abilities to develop faster computers, build bridges, and bring people together."
PTC is providing its Pro/DESKTOPฎ and Pro/ENGINEERฎ design software to middle and high schools throughout the state to drive global technology education within schools. PTC is also providing teachers in Massachusetts with free training, instructional tools, and other resources to aid young people in developing proficiency in using technology and in preparing for careers in design, technology, and engineering. PTC Executive Vice President Barry Cohen says, "Engineering and technology are the future."
Training is a key step in this program, says Margaret Pantridge, director of community relations, PTC, and then it is up to the schools to implement a creative strategy to meet state-wide curriculum standards, which are based on a curriculum standards model developed for the nation. Funding from several organizations, including the ITEA (International Technology Educators Association), allowed for the development of the curriculum standards.
In an effort to roll out this program nationwide, and even worldwide, PTC ran a series of 16 free interactive training sessions this summer in 13 states, including Massachusetts. An additional 500 teachers were exposed to the program doubling the number of teachers trained in the U.S. to 1,000. The program has been introduced in 25 states.