Project Lead The Way helping students with engineering classes

The U.S. Department of Labor says college engineering graduates have a good job outlook.

One vo-tech center here in the Tri-States wants to make sure some of its students get the pre-engineering background they need in high school.

That school and that program is the Quincy Area Vocational Technical Center and its certification as a Project Lead The Way School.

In one classroom at the QAVTC it looks like a classroom full of students playing the puzzle game, "Jenga". But it's really a group of students designing and putting together wooden block puzzles for their Introduction to Design Engineering class.

"You do see a higher level engagement in their classes. Because what it really does for this is it gives them relevance for what they're learning in their core academic classes," QAVTC director Mark Pfleiger said.

Jacob Calvin is a high school senior. He said he might want to pursue an engineering degree in college. So this type of course work helps him get ready for college classes next year.

"I like that it is challenging and that you have to think every day. It's not like one of those classes that you come in and you can sleep in. You've got to actually try what you're doing and if it doesn't work, you've got to keep doing it because the first time...the first time you mess up, you've got to keep going," Calvin said.

The pre-engineering sequence consists of four classes. About 90 students are enrolled in those classes. The course work is modeled after work done by professional engineers.

"If you can explore that now while your education is still basically free and get yourself started in a career path and plus you can potentially earn some college credit as well as some scholarship opportunities to this program, so it's a great benefit to the kids," Pfleiger said.

Pfleiger also said students must meet certain guidelines to be admitted to the pre-engineering classes. He added the number of students enrolling continues to grow.

High schools in Burlington, Iowa , Pekin and Riverton, Illinois are also certified Project Lead the Way Schools.