Jump Start Pre-Engineering Career Pathway to Provide High School Students with Advanced Skills, College Credit



First-of-its-Kind Pathway Designed for Students Pursuing Both TOPS and Jump Start Diplomas

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Louisiana high school students will be able to develop skills to help them succeed in college or career, all while earning transferable course credit at Louisiana State University (LSU), as the result of a new Jump Start Pre-Engineering Certification Pathway. The Pre-Engineering Certification Pathway, which will be piloted in 2017-2018 before expanding statewide, was approved today by the Academic Goals and Instructional Improvement Committee of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and will be voted on tomorrow by the full board at its regular meeting.

Jump Start is Louisiana's premier career and technical education program that prepares students to lead productive adult lives in high-wage sectors. Students enroll in a specialized progression of courses called pathways to attain industry-promulgated and valued credentials in order to graduate with a career diploma or to enhance their university-preparatory diploma.

The Pre-Engineering Certification Pathway offers a first-of-its-kind hybrid curriculum that can be applied to either diploma track. It will be offered to up to 200 freshmen among eight high schools during its pilot year, including: Central, Baker, Lee Magnet and McKinley high schools in East Baton Rouge Parish; Mathematics, Science and Arts Academy-East in Iberville Parish; STEM Academy in Pointe Coupee Parish; West Feliciana High School in West Feliciana Parish; and University View Academy, an online charter school serving all parishes.

The pathway includes eight science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses, two for each year of a student's high school journey. These courses will expose students to the principles of engineering, engineering design, computational thinking, data manipulation, robotics and economics, among other related topics.

Two of the eight courses will also be available in a dual-enrollment format, which will enable students to earn college course credit at LSU. These credit hours may be transferred to institutions other than LSU, if approved by the receiving institution. Additionally, LSU will offer an "LSU Pre-Engineering Certificate of Course Completion" to high school students who participate in the pre-engineering pathway taught by approved teachers. Students who earn the certificate will be encouraged to note it as an accolade when applying to four-year universities for admission into STEM programs.

The Pre-Engineering Certification Pathway was developed through a collaboration among the Louisiana Department of Education, the Capital and North Capital Regional Jump Start Teams, the LSU College of Engineering and the LSU Gordon A. Cain Center for STEM Literacy. It builds on the extensive preliminary work seen at Lee Magnet High School, where the curriculum first took shape as part of the school's "early college" model.

"As we were creating our academies at Lee Magnet High School, we developed the pre-engineering coursework through our partnership with LSU," said Nanette McCann, principal of Lee Magnet and Baton Rouge Magnet high schools. "The Pre-Engineering Certification Pathway is a great addition that will allow schools to offer a combined college and career pathway that serves all students."

Craig Harvey, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at the LSU College of Engineering, said many high
school students do not understand where an engineering profession could lead them and are unfamiliar with the various engineering fields. The pathway, he said, will expose students to a first-hand understanding of engineering as a profession.

"Whether a student decides to go to college or straight to a career, the skills offered in the engineering pathway are more in demand today than ever before," he said. "These courses do not replace their basic math and sciences. Instead, these courses help a student, for example, understand why algebra and geometry are important to designing a robot. By introducing students to engineering and exposing them to advanced STEM coursework early in their studies, they are prepared before they ever step foot on to a college campus or job site. In addition, the skills they build would easily transfer to other fields, technical and otherwise."

Frank Neubrander, Director of the LSU Gordon A. Cain Center for STEM Literacy, said he was gratified to see that LSU's pre-engineering courses can now be offered throughout Louisiana.

"This would not have been possible without the LSU College of Engineering, the financial support of East Baton Rouge Parish School System and Jump Start Career Development Funds, and the Lee High School administration's determination to guarantee that all students have access to quality career-tech courses, in addition to an academic core curriculum that features numerous dual enrollment and advanced placement opportunities," Neubrander added.

McCann agreed the curriculum is advantageous.

"The benefits to the students who complete this certification are four-fold," she said. "Students decide if they want to pursue engineering as a career; students are exposed to various branches of engineering; students earn college credit through dual enrollment courses at LSU; and students are prepared to enter college or the work force in engineering after graduation."

But students are not the only ones who will benefit from the pre-engineering pathway, said State Superintendent John White. Teachers who instruct the pathway courses will complete a program offered by the LSU colleges of science and engineering via a customized "Professional Graduate Certification Program." This program, which amounts to 18 graduate-level credit hours, is designed to be completed over two consecutive summers. Twenty-one educators who are teaching pathway courses in the 2017-2018 pilot year will begin the program this summer free of charge.

"Careers in the fields of STEM are among the fastest growing in the state and in the nation," White said. "By introducing Louisiana students to STEM curriculum early in their education, and by equipping our educators with the most up-to-date knowledge and skills to guide these lessons, we are positioning them all for long-term success."

The Pre-Engineering Certification Pathway is part of a broader effort by the Department to expand its Jump Start pathways and concentrate more attention on STEM education. Jump Start now has 48 approved pathways, not including the Pre-Engineering Certification Pathway, and regional teams across the state are developing more to submit for approval. Among those under construction: computer science, coastal restoration, robotics and advanced medical pathways.

"Promoting and supporting STEM skills development in our schools broadens career possibilities for our students and helps prepare them for success in a variety of advanced, specialized fields," said BESE Secretary-Treasurer Jada Lewis, who serves as the Assistant Dean of Diversity at LSU's College of Engineering. "The pathway approved by the committee today is an important step in building greater awareness and readiness for the STEM workplace, and we look forward to a bright future."

About Louisiana's Jump Start Program

Jump Start, an initiative of the state Department of Education, is Louisiana's innovative career and technical education program. Jump Start prepares students to lead productive adult lives, capable of continuing their education after high school while earning certifications in high-wage career sectors. Students are required to attain industry-promulgated, industry-valued credentials in order to graduate with a Career Diploma. Jump Start is an elective path for students pursuing a university-preparatory diploma.

About the LSU College of Engineering

The LSU College of Engineering is one of the five fastest growing colleges in the U.S. With award-winning programs, faculty and research opportunities, the college is dedicated to creating future industry leaders who can transform ideas into reality, solve society's problems and improve the quality of life. The College of Engineering's newly renovated and expanded Patrick F. Taylor Hall is the largest free-standing academic building in the history of Louisiana.

About the LSU Gordon A. Cain Center for STEM Literacy

The Gordon A. Cain Center's primary mission is to support high-quality STEM education and College Readiness initiatives through programs and services that build capacity for successful teaching and student learning. The Cain Center also administers LSU's Dual Enrollment program to high schools through the state.

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Contact Sydni Dunn, Press Secretary, Louisiana Department of Education, Office: 225-342-7080, Cell: 225-362-4644