The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) was awarded a $75,000 grant to develop an energy and power curriculum for middle schools and high schools. The American Public Power Association (APPA), a public utility industry organization, awarded the grant through its Demonstration of Energy-Efficient Developments (DEED) program. The $75,000 grant is the largest grant awarded through the DEED program.
The money will fund development and field testing of the energy and power curriculum project and will expand a national pre-engineering program led by Project Lead the Way. SMUD will be the first entity to commit funding to developing the curriculum. In addition to funding, SMUD will provide a public power perspective to developing the curriculum and a school in Sacramento County will have an opportunity to pilot the curriculum in the classroom.
Project Lead the Way (PLTW) is a non-profit group dedicated to producing and increasing a diverse group of students to be successful in science, math, engineering, and technology programs at the four- and two-year college level. PLTW provides an activities-based, project-based, and problem-based curriculum targeted to the top 80 percent of middle and high school students in the United States.
PLTW curricula provide relevant, hands-on experience that applies math and science concepts to solving real-life challenges and problems, such as designing and managing energy-efficient equipment, systems and processes. The curriculum will be available to middle and high schools in public power service territories throughout the United States.
PLTW is sponsored by Linking Education and Economic Development (LEED), a non-profit economic development organization serving the six-county Sacramento region. LEED comprises employers and educators and civic, business, labor, workforce and economic development organizations. LEED’s role is to strategically align educational resources to meet workforce needs and economic demands. SMUD supports LEED in building a qualified workforce to help the region meet its goal to attract and develop clean technology businesses. Currently, there are 14 schools in the SMUD service territory and more than 2,300 schools nationwide that have PLTW curricula.
SMUD and PLTW will develop the curriculum for a full year course for high schools and a nine-week unit of study for middle schools. The course will contain content in fossil fuels, bio-fuels, solar energy, nuclear energy, geothermal energy, power systems, and energy and power conversion systems. Additional course content will be determined by a panel of experts which includes representatives from business and industry, colleges and teachers.
“Since all high tech, biotech, and clean energy tech companies require a highly trained, highly skilled workforce of engineers and engineering technicians, having PLTW curriculum in middle schools and high schools frontloads the education pipeline to prepare students to become that workforce,” said Judith D’Amico, PTLW’s director of State and Corporate Relations, Western Region.