College of Engineering
Cal Poly Pomona

About Project Lead The Way

Forging New Generations of Engineers
Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a not-for-profit organization partnering with public schools, organizations in the private sectors, and higher education institutions to increase the number and quality of engineers graduating from our educational system. The PLTW curriculum was first introduced in 12 New York State high schools in the 1997-98 school year.  Today, the programs are offered in over 4,700 schools in 50 states.

PLTW students are introduced to the scope, rigor and discipline of engineering, engineering technology and bio medical sciences to really get a feeling of the rewards and benefits of being a part of such a powerful career. Students participating in PLTW courses are better prepared for college engineering programs and more likely to be successful, thus reducing the attrition rate in these college programs, which currently exceeds 50 percent nationally.





Students from South Point Middle School have fun building a sphagetti tower as their exposure to engineering during a visit to Cal Poly Pomona (2014).


Just getting started? Review PLTW Resources.

PLTW Courses for Elementary Schools, Middle Schools and High Schools
Project Lead The Way has created a special series of courses that are incorporated into the elementary school, middle school and high school years. These courses complement math and science college preparatory programs to inspire interest and establish a solid background in engineering and technology. Three sets of curricula and courses are available to school districts: Launch (for elementary school), Gateway (for middle school) and Engineering (for high school).

Elementary School: Launch

Through Launch, students become problem solvers. Students use structured approaches, like the engineering design process, and employ critical thinking. They apply STEM knowledge, skills, and habits of mind, learning that it is OK to take risks and make mistakes. As teachers and students learn and discover together, education becomes far more engaging.



  • Structure and Function
  • Structure and Function: Pushes and Pulls


1st Grade

  • Light and Sound
  • Light: Observing Earth, Sun, Moon, and Stars


2nd Grade

  • Materials Science: Properties of Matter
  • Materials Science: Form and Function


3rd Grade

  • Stability and Motion: Science of Flight
  • Stability and Motion: Forces and Interactions


4th Grade

  • Energy: Collisions
  • Energy: Conversion


5th Grade

  • Robotics and Automation
  • Robotics and Automation: Challenge


Engaging students at a young age builds confidence, grows interest, and puts them on course for strong accomplishments in middle school, high school, and beyond.

Learn More about Elementary School: Launch

Middle School: Gateway

Gateway is an activity-oriented middle school curriculum—a program designed to help students in grades six through eight explore math, science, and technology. There are five independent, nine-week units; schools are expected to offer a minimum of two units. Most schools elect to offer four or more of the following:


Foundation Units

  • Automation and Robotics (AR)
  • Design and Modeling (DM)


Specialization Units

  • Energy and Environment (EE)
  • Flight and Space (FS)
  • Green Architecture (GA)
  • Magic of Electrons (ME)
  • Science of Technology (ST)
  • Medical Detectives (MD)

These courses can be spread over three school years or condensed into the eighth grade academic year. Middle school students are naturally curious, and these units are designed to challenge and engage young minds in exciting activities.

Learn More about Middle School: Gateway

High School: Engineering

The structured yet flexible high school program offers students in-depth, hands-on knowledge of engineering and technology-based careers. The three-tiered approach to learning flows from foundation courses to specialization courses to a capstone course.


Foundation Courses

  • Introduction to Engineering Design (IED)
  • Principles of Engineering (POE)


Specialization Courses

  • Aerospace Engineering (AE)
  • Biotechnical Engineering (BE)
  • Civil Engineering and Architecutre (CEA)
  • Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM)
  • Digital Electronics (DE)


Capstone Course

  • Engineering Design and Development (EDD)

This curriculum prepares students for demanding two- and four-year college engineering programs.

Learn More about High School: Engineering