Project Lead the Way accredits HCISD Engineering Program

HHS Engineering
Paul Tenison’s HHS students receive hands-on experience in their PLTW engineering course.
HHSS Engineering
HHSS engineering student learns how to control the movement of a robotic arm for materials handling and assembly operations.
CFA Engineering
Intro to Engineering Design Teacher, Justin Evans, introduces students at Dr. Abraham P. Cano Freshman Academy to reverse engineering. The process is to take apart an object in order to inspect each and every part to determine what its function is. It is the method used by many firms in order to improve upon the design of their competitors.

HCISD announced this week that both of its comprehensive high schools, Harlingen High School and Harlingen High School South, have received national certification for their Project Lead The Way (PLTW) program that has been offered since 2002.

The program was first certified in 2009 – certification is valid for five years. This is the second time HCISD schools have gone through the national certification process to validate their program.

PLTW, a nonprofit organization and the nation’s leading provider of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education programs, offers a rigorous world-class curriculum that allows students to apply what they are learning in math and science class to real-life activities, projects and problems.

PLTW also prides itself on the high-quality professional development of its teachers and an engaged network of business, community and university partners to provide students the fullest experience.

The national PLTW recognition program distinguishes schools for successfully demonstrating a commitment to its national standards. Additionally, certification as a PLTW school provides students with the opportunity to apply for college credit or receive college-level recognition at PLTW affiliate universities when they successfully complete select courses in high school.

PLTW has more than 50 college, university and research partners, including the University of Texas at Tyler in Tyler, Texas.

In order to remain competitive in the global economy, America needs approximately 400,000 STEM college graduates annually, according to a National Business Roundtable report. Currently, the U.S. is graduating only 265,000 annually. PLTW is providing students with the skills, foundation and proven path to college and career success in STEM areas to increase the number of STEM graduates.

“HCISD should be congratulated for demonstrating once again its commitment to PLTW’s quality standards,” said PLTW President and CEO Vince Bertram. “The real winners here, however, are HCISD’s students. Students benefit from PLTW’s innovative, project-based curriculum that encourages creativity, problem solving and critical thinking. We look forward to many more years of working together to prepare HCISD’s students for the global economy.”

As part of the recognition process, principals and a team composed of teachers, staff, students and members of the community submitted a self-assessment of the school’s implementation of PLTW’s Engineering program.

Following the self-assessment, both campuses received site visits by a PLTW trained team. The group met with teachers, school administrators, counselors, students, and members of the school’s Partnership Team. A PLTW school’s Partnership Team (sometimes referred to as an Advisory Council) is comprised of teachers, counselors, administrators, post-secondary representatives, business and industry professionals and other community members who actively support the PLTW program within a school.

HCISD’s engineering labs met national standards for equipment, computers and software; furthermore, teachers attended summer training institutes in specific engineering areas for the certification.

“The benefits to the students are a national standardized sequence of classes that will prepare them for the most rigorous university engineering programs,” said Paul Tenison. “Students are motivated to excel in project-based curriculum courses by the challenge of solving real world problems and the competitive nature of the problems teacher present. It’s the kind of hands-on experience that will engage more students in science, technology, engineering and math—fields that they might otherwise never have considered.”

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and the nation’s leading provider of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs. PLTW’s world-class, activity-, project-, and problem-based curriculum and high-quality teacher professional development model, combined with an engaged network of educators and corporate partners, help students develop the skills needed to succeed in our global economy. More than 5,000 elementary, middle, and high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia currently offer PLTW courses to their students. For more information, visit

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