East Technical High School earns national certification for engineering program


East Tech High School has received national certification for its Project Lead the Way program that prepares students for careers in engineering and opens their eyes to career possibilities in STEM.

Since 2011, East Tech has offered a rigorous curriculum through Project Lead the Way, which allows students to apply what they learn in math and science courses to real-life engineering projects. Project Lead the Way is the nation’s leading provider of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education programs.

East Tech is one of eight District high schools that offers Project Lead the Way courses and part of CMSD’s commitment to broaden access to career-technical education programs, as stated in The Cleveland Plan.

Certification as a Project Lead the Way school provides students with the opportunity to apply for college credit or receive college-level recognition at PLTW affiliate universities.

East Technical High School students participate in Project Lead the Way.
East Technical High School students participate in Project Lead the Way.

East Tech teacher LaShawn Manuel, who runs the PLTW program at the school, said the pathway draws her students to engineering and technology courses and gets them thinking about college and careers.

“My students are building, developing and creating,” Manuel said. “It’s the kind of hands-on experience that will engage students in STEM fields that they might otherwise never consider.”

The engineering pathway at East Tech is a four-year program that guides students through increasingly complex engineering concepts. Starting from ninth grade, the students use 3D printers and 3D modeling software to complete hands-on projects. They learn the basics of technical writing and drawing that they will need to complete projects in the next phases of the program.
In 10th grade, students dive into the world of robotics and coding. Eleventh-graders focus on digital electronics and learn soldering — the process of joining items together by melting them.

Senior year includes a project where students learn about building design and architecture and create a design for affordable housing.

The Project Lead the Way program is supported by several community partners who provide funding, field trips, scholarships and internships. The partners are Rockwell Automation, Junior National Society of Black Engineers, Cleveland Water Department, Regional Information Technology Engagement Board and General Motors.

Manuel said that even if students decide they don’t want to pursue engineering as a career, many of them stick with the pathway because of the universal skills they gain, including technical writing and research, that they can use in college and other careers.

“I want them to get a better idea of the scope of career opportunities in STEM fields,” she said. “If they become interested in similar fields, like computer science, many of the skills they learn in this program can apply to that.”