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STEM Program

St. Mary's offers two ways for students to experience engineering opportunities. 

As a nationally-certified Project Lead the Way (PLTW) school, St. Mary's provides a four-year engineering curriculum that offers dual college credit opportunities through the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs (UCCS) and other universities.

Students who are interested in engineering but who do not want to complete the PLTW track can explore the subject in a one-semester Fundamentals of  Engineering course. This course, designed by science teacher Al Hartzell, exposes students to six engineering areas including mechanical, electrical, biomedical, environmental, chemical, and aerospace.

Project Lead the Way

Students, through UCCS, have the opportunity to earn up to 11 college engineering credits. They will also have the opportunity to earn national credentials, such as the Autodesk Inventor Professional Certified User and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) 10-hour General Industry certification.

St. Mary’s PLTW Engineering program finished its four-year roll out during the 2017-2018 school year. PLTW classes are year-long electives for students interested in any technical career path; hands-on problem solving, critical and creative thinking, and strategies to solve “gray” problems highlight these electives. Discernment regarding technical career paths is another key benefit of the program–students who graduate from the PLTW track are entering college with clearer focus regarding the degrees and careers they want.

The four PLTW elective classes offered at St. Mary’s are Introduction to Engineering Design, Principles of Engineering, Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science Principles, and the senior capstone course, Engineering Design & Development (Honors, 5.0 scale). Students who complete all four-years of the PLTW elective sequence are eligible to compete for a $4,000 scholarship, the first and only of its kind at St. Mary’s, provided they pursue a technical career path in college.

Fundamentals of Engineering

The Fundamentals of Engineering course consists of labs and projects that allow the students to obtain hands-on experience with each of the six types of engineering. For example, the students are tasked with designing and building an ark that will float. Through the project they learn about polymers, adhesives, 3D printing and lasers.

The Fundamentals of Engineering course is intended for freshman and sophomores, and the course maxes out at 20 students each semester. Mr. Hartzell, a biomedical engineer by trade, developed the course, which was first offered in 2014.