Four Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will open Academies of Engineering when school opens in August. Mallard Creek, Vance, Phillip O. Berry and Hopewell high schools learned on Monday, May 18, that they had completed a year of rigorous planning and were approved as official Academy of Engineering sites.
The Academy of Engineering initiative is a collaboration between the National Academy Foundation (NAF), Project Lead The Way and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME). The first 13 Academies of Engineering opened in 2008; more schools will join the program each year until there is a national network of 110 academies. J.D. Hoye, president of the National Academy Foundation, Niel Tebbano, vice-president of operations for Project Lead The Way, and Dr. Irving McPhail, executive vice-president and chief operating officer for NACME, came to Charlotte to celebrate the schools’ success. The schools celebrated at a breakfast event at the Oasis Shrine Auditorium.
“This partnership is a wonderful opportunity for our students,” said Scott Muri, area superintendent for the Northeast Learning Community. “It provides rigor, relevance and relationships, which are invaluable attributes of successful partnerships that allow our students to leave us college and career ready.”
The schools will be among only 110 high schools in the country with the approved Academy of Engineering program – and four of only five in the United States to offer a motorsports curriculum. The other high school that will offer motorsports studies is in Columbia, S.C.
The National Academy Foundation is a partnership between business leaders and educators to prepare students for professional careers. It serves more than 50,000 students in more than 500 academies in 41 states and the District of Columbia. CMS is already home to two other NAF academies: the Academy of Information Technology at Berry and the Academy of Finance at Olympic.
“We are excited that Charlotte is defining what successful private-public partnerships should look like for districts across the country,” said Hoye. “These kinds of partnerships will help give our students the competitive education they deserve.”
Demand for qualified, highly-trained engineers in the United States is on the rise. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, four of the top 30 fastest-growing occupations through 2014 will be related to engineering. As a group, engineers earn some of the highest average starting salaries among those holding bachelor’s degrees. The bureau projects more than 386,000 new engineering job openings, but current trends show the supply of U.S. educated engineers is waning. Not enough students are graduating from high school with sufficient math and science skills. The academies were created to address the acute shortage of engineers entering the workforce and to encourage students, especially minority students in urban schools, to focus on engineering fields.
“We are especially excited about our partnership with CMS that will help us produce the engineers our American workforce desperately needs,” said McPhail. “Our goal is to produce an engineering workforce that looks like America. Our partnership with CMS will help us achieve that.”
The Academies of Engineering include curriculum developed by Project Lead The Way, based on expertise from engineering and manufacturing industry leaders and education experts. Courses include: Introduction to Engineering Design, Principles of Engineering, Computer Integrated Manufacturing, Civil Engineering and Architecture, Biotechnical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering. Academy of Engineering students will also take corresponding math and science courses. During the summer, students work as paid interns with architecture, engineering and aerospace firms. The academies will also prepare students for other post-secondary studies that require a strong foundation in engineering, math, science and language arts.
“The national team recognized the level of expertise we have here in CMS,” said Jimmy Chancey, director of Career and Technical Education for CMS. “They saw an opportunity to open four academies in one school district and worked with our schools for more than a year to ensure they were prepared to open these high-tech programs. We know it will be a success because of the partnerships we have with local and national businesses and community groups, and because of the high caliber of teachers and students here.”
To learn more about the Academies of Engineering in CMS, visit each school’s Web page. Those may be accessed from the Schools section of the CMS Web site.
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