About PLTW

Overview of the PLTW Program

Project Lead The Way is one of the most ambitious and fastest growing school initiatives in the United States. PLTW is a non-profit organization that partners higher education institutions like WPI with secondary education schools and the private sector to deliver and implement an intensive pre-engineering curriculum to high school and middle school students. Combined with college preparatory mathematics and science courses, the four year high school curriculum provides students with a solid foundation for further study of engineering at a two or four year institution. The program also provides the opportunity for high school students to earn college credit for their PLTW coursework. Learn more about earning college credit from WPI in Information for Students & Parents.


The PLTW curriculum employs teamwork and problem solving, through which students develop a broad-based understanding of modern technology and of the scientific and engineering design processes.

The high school Engineering curriculum is comprised of a sequence of fundamental and specialization year-long courses, including:

Foundation Courses

  • Introduction to Engineering Design (IED) - required course
  • Principles of Engineering (POE) - required course

Specialization Courses

  • Aerospace Engineering (AE)  
  • Civil Engineering & Architecture (CEA)
  • Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM)
  • Computer Science & Software Engineering (CSE)
  • Digital Electronics (DE)
  • Environmental Sustainability (ES)
  • Engineering Design & Development (EDD) capstone course

PLTW high schools offer at least 3 of these courses so that a graduating senior in the program has had the opportunity to take a sequence of courses.  PLTW also offers high school programs in Biomedical Science and Computer Science, visit PLTW Programs for details.

At the middle school level, 34-hour units (aka 9-week and 45-day units) cover fundamental engineering principles and make connections between engineering and science. A school offers at least 2 of the following units:

  • Design & Modeling - required unit
  • Automation & Robotics - required unit
  • Energy & the Environment
  • Flight & Space
  • Green Architecture
  • Introduction to Computer Science 1
  • Introduction to Computer Science 2
  • Magic of Electrons
  • Medical Detectives 
  • Science of Technology

PLTW also offers the Launch curriculum for grades K-5.

Role of WPI in PLTW

In 2004, WPI became the Massachusetts Affiliate University for Project Lead The Way. Unique to the PLTW program and key to its success is its partnering aspect between secondary schools and higher education institutions. As the Massachusetts Affiliate for PLTW, our role includes:

  • Helping districts and schools learn more about PLTW
  • Working with schools to evaluate current lab facilities and plans for implementation
  • Hosting two-week, intensive Summer Training Institutes for teachers
  • Holding annual guidance counselor conferences
  • Conducting school certification visits for high schools committed to implementing at least 3 courses
  • Offering undergraduate credit to students in PLTW-certified high schools

Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks

Finding a curriculum that aligns well to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks can be challenging for a Massachusetts school. We are in the process of determining that alignment for the PLTW program. Feel free to contact Terry Adams for available documentation.