Jennifer Cahill, PLTW Director of Communications
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Learn from industry leaders how to apply core academic content and team work
GEORGETOWN, Ky.- “The plant was more modern than I expected, and the visit changed what I usually think about manufacturing,” said Iroquois High School sophomore Brian Reed. Reed was impressed by the Toyota facility at Georgetown, Ky. and the way people work together with technology to create a product, in this case a Toyota Camry.
Today’s visit by Project Lead The Way (PLTW) students from Iroquois and Shawnee High Schools was meant to help students understand the types of skills that are essential to success in the modern workforce and make the connection between what the students are learning in their PLTW classrooms with how a real manufacturing facility operates. The Iroquois and Shawnee High School students who attended today are enrolled in engineering courses provided through PLTW. Students are currently studying Introduction to Engineering Design, Principles of Engineering, and Digital Electronics. Courses at most high schools in Jefferson County Public Schools incorporate one of five career themes that offer advanced college and career preparation.
The tour and visit students experienced were part of a larger effort to help drive economic development and prepare young people for the high-skill, high-wage jobs important to Kentucky’s future economic growth. The Jefferson County Public School (JCPS) system is working closely with Greater Louisville Inc. to help further establish and support economic and workforce development in the region. James Reddish, Economic Development Manager at Greater Louisville Inc., said the goal is to support a pipeline of skilled workers. “We want our students to better understand advanced manufacturing and the real-time, problem-solving, and collaborative skills required in the modern workforce,” said Reddish. Greater Louisville Inc. supports these efforts through job shadows, field experiences, industry partnerships, as well as advocacy across the region.
Learning for these Jefferson County students continues when they graduate from high school. A unique and model program exists between Toyota and Bluegrass Community and Technical College where students, many recruited from PLTW schools across Kentucky, earn a two-year degree while getting relevant, applied workforce experience. Housed at Toyota’s Georgetown campus, the Advanced Manufacturing Technician program connects students to industry expectations and experiences while they learn the core academic content necessary to be effective members of a work team.
Shawnee High School senior Brent McGuffan likes the connection between college and the Toyota plant. “I am considering applying for this program because it is a good way to connect what I’m learning with a college education and work,” said McGuffan.
Dennis Dio Parker is excited to see the students visiting the Toyota campus. "It is critical for Toyota to get not just good talent, but the very best talent," said Parker, assistant manager at Toyota's North American Production Support Center. "We are also interested in seeing increased diversity in our programs and work teams. PLTW is a key source for new talent in our skilled maintenance work force. Close engagement in cooperative partnerships with our PLTW schools, including Jefferson County Public Schools, is helping us build a career pipeline that will make our skilled talent stand with the best in the world."
Vince Bertram, Project Lead The Way’s President and CEO, stated, “At PLTW, we are focused on helping regions and states work together to coordinate a range of stakeholders, including K-12 educators, universities, business and industry leaders, as well as state policy makers.” He went on to add, “The work at Toyota and in Kentucky is a model we are holding up across the country.” Bertram believes the collaboration happening in Kentucky is providing more opportunities for young people and developing a pipeline of talent that will support growth in the region.