Purdue Polytechnic High School to provide STEM pipeline

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The high school curriculum will mirror the transformed Purdue Polytechnic Institute on the West Lafayette campus.

Purdue Polytechnic Indianapolis High School, an educational experience designed to provide a bridge for inner-city students and others to succeed in high school and to be admitted directly to Purdue University, will open in August 2017.

Purdue University President Mitch Daniels on Thursday (June 18) announced the university’s plan to open the new STEM-focused charter school in downtown Indianapolis with the possibility of eventually expanding to cities where Purdue has statewide polytechnic centers. The high school curriculum will mirror the transformed Purdue Polytechnic Institute on the West Lafayette campus and serve as a pipeline to the institute.

“Our two basic objectives are to offer an alternative learning environment designed to better prepare students for today’s workplace and to increase significantly the unacceptably low number of Indianapolis Public School students who are qualified to succeed at Purdue,” Daniels said.

He said increasing the number of low-income, first-generation and minority students who are prepared for success is not just an Indiana issue but a nationwide challenge, and that the Polytechnic High School is an attempt at direct action where waiting on the current system has not worked.

A steering committee composed of leaders from Purdue, the city of Indianapolis, USA Funds and EmployIndy has been working for the past year on plans for the new school. USA Funds has provided a $500,000 planning grant, administered by EmployIndy, for the start-up of the school, which is expected to be in downtown Indianapolis.

“USA Funds is pleased to partner with Purdue University, the city of Indianapolis and EmployIndy to lay the foundation for this new school, which will transform the high school-to-college experience,” said William D. Hansen, USA Funds president and CEO. “Purdue Polytechnic Indianapolis will accelerate completion of a rigorous curriculum, saving students time and money, and better preparing them for rewarding careers with the skills that central Indiana employers value.”

Purdue faculty, primarily from the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, will develop the unique curriculum and teaching methods for the school as a blend of K-12 and postsecondary education with an infusion of industry leadership and participation, said Gary Bertoline, dean of the Purdue Polytechnic Institute.

“Our partners in industry will be vital, working with our faculty to develop the academic model, and to define and refine the competencies students must master to succeed in the 21st century economy,” Bertoline said. “Graduates will have the skills to meet the evolving needs of industry and with dual credits for continued postsecondary education, as well as industry-recognized credentials and mastery in a defined high-tech pathway.”

Bertoline said students who succeed in the rigorous curriculum at Purdue Polytechnic Indianapolis High School will be directly admitted to Purdue.

The Purdue Polytechnic Institute, a newly named transformation of the Purdue College of Technology, provides a 21st century polytechnic education to provide students with skills, knowledge and experiences required by business and industry today and in decades to come. Its programs combine theory-based applied learning, team-based projects and experiential components such as industry-sponsored capstone projects, internships and applied work experiences. Sample concentrations include robotics and manufacturing, human scale computing, bio-inspired sustainability and cybersecurity.

How it will work

Purdue Polytechnic Indianapolis High School will have open enrollment for a STEM-based curriculum in which the first two years will encompass problem- and project-based learning focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics with a connection between those subjects and real-world challenges. Students entering 11th grade will select a specific pathway to master skills, earn college credit and gain industry credentials while learning in the high school classroom, at Purdue’s West Lafayette campus and in the workplace. In the 12th grade, students will complete an internship of their chosen pathway.

As part of the program, Purdue also will provide programs that help students transition from high school to college and college-level courses.

About USA Funds

USA Funds is a nonprofit corporation that supports Completion With a Purpose, building a more purposeful path for America’s students to and through college and on to rewarding careers and successful lives. USA Funds pursues its nonprofit mission through philanthropic activities and partnerships, policy research, and programs and services that enhance preparation for, access to and success in higher education. Learn more at http://www.usafunds.org.

Note to journalists: Video of the announcement is available at ftp://news69.uns.purdue.edu/Public/PolytechnicHS/

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