Engineering Design & Electronics

Program Overview:   Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a CTE instructional program that incorporates the national standards of The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the National Science Standards and the International Technology Education Association.  The program prepares students for further education and careers in engineering and engineering technology.  


Three Foundation Courses:

Introduction to Engineering Design (IED) – may be used for Technology Education credit,

Principles of Engineering (POE) – may be used for Technology Education credit and

Digital Electronics (DE)


*Engineering Specialization Course – Schools offer one of the following:  This is the concentrator course

Aerospace Engineering (AE),

Civil Engineering and Architecture (CEA),

Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM), and 

Environmental Sustainability (ES)


Engineering Specialization Option – Schools have the option of offering an additional specialization area


Capstone Course:

Engineering Design and Development (EDD)


Course Title:  Introduction to Engineering Design (IED) – This course may be used to satisfy the Technology Education graduation requirement or as one of the courses in the CTE sequence.   IT MAY NOT BE USED FOR BOTH.


Course Description:  This foundation course emphasizes the development of a design.  Students use computer software to produce, analyze and evaluate models of projects solutions.  They study the design concepts of form and function, and then use state-of-the-art technology to translate conceptual design into reproducible products.  Students are expected to:


  • Apply the design process to solve various problems in a team setting and explore career opportunities in design engineering and understand what skills and education these jobs require (Introduction);
  • Apply adaptive design concepts in developing sketches, features, parts and assemblies (Introduction to Design);
  • Interpret sketches in using computer software to design models (Sketching and Visualization);
  • Understand mass property calculations—such as volume, density, mass, surface area, moment of inertia, product of inertia, radii of gyration, principal axes and principal moments—and how they are used to evaluate a parametric model (Modeling and Model Analysis Verification);
  • Understand cost analysis, quality control, staffing needs, packing and product marketing (Marketing); and
  • Develop portfolios to display their designs and present them properly to peers, instructors and professionals (Portfolio Development).




Course Title:  Principles of Engineering (POE) – This course may be used to satisfy the Technology Education graduation requirement or as one of the courses in the CTE sequence.   IT MAY NOT BE USED FOR BOTH.


Course Description:  This foundation course provides an overview of engineering and engineering technology.  Students develop problem-solving skills by tackling real-world engineering problems.  Through theory and practical hands-on experiences, students address the emerging social and political consequences of technological change.  Students are expected to:


  • Know the types of engineers and their contributions to society (Overview and Perspective of Engineering).
  • Solve problems and learn how engineers work in teams to develop products (Design Process)
  • Collect and categorize data, produce graphic representations, keep an engineer’s notebook and make written and oral presentations (Communication and Documentation).
  • Apply knowledge of mechanical, electrical, fluid, pneumatic and control systems in the design process (Engineering Systems).
  • Apply knowledge of measurement, scalars and vectors, equilibrium, structural analysis, and strength of materials in the design process (Statics).
  • Understand the categories and properties of materials and how materials are shaped and joined in order to perform material testing (Materials and Materials Testing). 
  • Understand units and forms of energy, energy conversion, cycles, efficiency and energy loss, and conservation techniques (Thermodynamics).
  • Use precision measurement tools to gather and apply statistics for quality and process control.  Students will also learn about reliability, redundancy, risk analysis, factors of safety, and liability and ethics (Engineering for Quality and Reliability).
  • Understand the concepts of linear and trajectory motion and the circumstances in which it can be applied (Dynamics).



Course Title:  Digital Electronics (DE)


Course Description: This foundation course introduces students to applied digital logic, a key element of careers in engineering and engineering technology.  This course explores the smart circuits found in watches, calculators, video games and computers.  Students use industry-standard computer software in testing and analyzing digital circuitry.  They design circuits to solve problems, export their designs to a printed circuit auto-routing program that generates printed circuit boards, and use appropriate components to build their designs.  Students use mathematics and science in solving real-world engineering problems.  Students are expected to:


  • Understand the principles of and laws of electronics and electrical theory (Fundamentals);
  • Apply binary and hexadecimal number systems to design and construct digital circuits (Number Systems);
  • Use gates to control logic levels (Gates);
  • Understand how Boolean algebra is applied to digital systems (Boolean Algebra);
  • Interconnect gates to form combinational logic circuits (Combinational Logic Circuit Design);
  • Understand that MSI chips perform mathematical operations on binary numbers and use discrete gates or MSI chips to design, test and build adder circuits (Adding);
  • Use flip-flops in elementary memory storage and frequency division (Flip-Flops);
  • Classify by input and output the four types of shift registers (Shift Registers and Counters);
  • Classify the families of logic devices and explain the specifications of each family (Families and Specifications);
  • Explain the basic elements of a microprocessor and understand how microprocessors are turned into microcomputers (Microprocessors); and
  • Select and solve a digital electronics problem using computer simulation software and appropriate parts.  Prepare a presentation and write a summarizing report.  (Capstone Project)



Course Title:  Engineering Specialization Course:  This is the concentrator course for the PLTW Engineering Pathway.  These specialized options provide students with the opportunity of taking their foundational knowledge and skills and applying them in different aspects of engineering: 


Course Descriptions:


Aerospace Engineering (AE):  The pathway course introduces students to the world of aeronautics, flight, and engineering.  Students in this course will apply scientific and engineering concepts to design materials and processes that directly measure, repair, improve, and extend systems in different environments.  Students are expected to:


  • Understand the many engineering problems faced during the development of flight, research the history of flight and identify the major components of airplanes (The History of Flight)
  • Understand the principles of aerodynamics (Aerodynamics and Aerodynamics Testing).
  • Explain fundamental theories of lift creation and stability know the names and purposes of aircraft components and create small gliders to understand the design, construction, and testing cycle of engineering (Flight Systems)
  • Apply Newton’s Three Laws of Motion, the ideas associated with the design of rocket engines and how the creation of an action results in thrust that enables rockets to move (Astronautics).
  • Students investigate the requirements for life support systems at ground level, during high-speed atmospheric travel, and in the zero-pressure, microgravity environment of space.  Students design and videotape experiments that create a positive g-force (Space
  • Design composite (layered) plastic test samples using various engineering composite materials. Through laboratory testing, they measure the stiffness of various composite materials and designs and determine the modulus of elasticity (Aerospace Materials).
  • Students research types of intelligent vehicles and learn the basic aspects of designing, building, and programming an intelligent vehicle (Systems Engineering).


Civil Engineering and Architecture (CEA):  This pathway course provides an overview of the fields of Civil Engineering and Architecture, while emphasizing the interrelationship and dependence of both fields on each other. Students use state of the art software to solve real world problems and communicate solutions to hands-on projects and activities.  Students are expected to:


  • Understand the history, influence and impact of engineering and architecture; the relationship of civil engineering and architecture; and the responsibilities of both fields, including ethics and values (The Roles of Civil Engineers and Architects).
  • Solve a design problem that will introduce them to basic elements of design and software use (Introduction to Projects)
  • Work in teams to apply the concepts (Site Discovery, Regulations, and a Generic Viability Analysis) of project planning. (Project Planning).
  • Explain the basic concepts of site planning including:
  • Descriptions of Property,
  • Site Plan Requirements,
  • Site Plan Layouts,
  • Public Ingress and Egress,
  • Site Grading,
  • Utilities,
  • Landscaping, and
  • Water Supply and Wastewater Management
  • Using related software, students explore the application of those concepts (Site Planning)
  • Recognize the many aspects of design and understand the responsibilities of the architect along with the related skills that are necessary to appropriately design a structure that will function as intended and be acceptable to the client’s needs and wants (Architecture).
  • Understand the basics of structural engineering. Apply structural data to formulas and tables, perform calculations, and add the results in the form of structural details, to the prints (Structural Engineering).
  • Prepare presentations and have peer reviews of team and individual work (Project Documentation and Presentation).


Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM):  Course Description:  This pathway course teaches the fundamentals of computerized manufacturing technology.  It builds on the solid-modeling skills developed in the Introduction to Engineering Design course.  Students use 3-D computer software to solve design problems.  They assess their solutions through mass propriety analysis (the relationship of design, function and materials), modify their designs, and use prototyping equipment to produce 3-D models.  Students are expected to:


  • Use 3-D software for mass property analysis (Computer Modeling);
  • Understand of the operating procedures and programming capabilities of machine tools (Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Equipment:
  • Convert computer-generated geometry into a program to direct the operation of CNC machine tools (Computer-aided Manufacturing (CAM);
  • Program robots to handle materials in assembly-line operations (Robotics); and
  • Work in teams to design manufacturing work cells and tabletop factories to solve complex problems that arise in integrating multiple pieces of computer-controlled equipment (Flexible Manufacturing Systems).



Environmental Sustainability (ES):  Environmental Sustainability is a rigorous activity, project, and problem-based course in which students investigate and design solutions to solve real-world challenges related to clean and abundant drinking water, food supply issues, and renewable energy.  Students completing ES will develop an understanding of the scientific and technological foundations for each of the problems. Students apply their knowledge and skills as they use an engineering design process to design and test solutions that help solve these global challenges.  This course develops students’ thinking skills and prepares them for emerging careers through topics such as genetic engineering, biofuels, and biomanufacturing.  Students are expected to:


  • Learn how the biological engineering of organisms can be used to provide environmentally friendly and sustainable solutions to produce affordable, renewable energy; clean, safe drinking water; and nutritious food sufficient for a growing world population;
  • Build models of natural water systems, investigate how these systems become contaminated, explore how contamination can be prevented, and examine how polluted waters can be purified. Laboratory methods for quantitatively measuring water quality are practiced;
  • Investigate the role and effectiveness of biological organisms in cleaning up water polluted with crude oil.  The physical, chemical, and biological technologies and processes utilized by waste water treatment plants are explored, including optional field trips to these facilities;
  • Apply their knowledge of water issues, water treatment technologies, and the associated role of biological organisms, along with their engineering design experience, to the challenge of designing a small-scale water treatment system for rapid deployment within natural disaster zones;
  • Learn about the structure and function of DNA, the process of protein synthesis, and determine whether or not familiar food items contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs);
  • Investigate various molecular biology techniques while working through the steps necessary to create genetically modified plants;
  • Explore PCR, DNA sequencing techniques, restriction enzyme action, ligation, gel electrophoresis, bacterial transformation, and plant transformation;
  • Work through the beginning steps of the engineering design process to propose a genetic engineering solution to a global food security issue;
  • Explore current global energy consumption patterns and examine futuristic energy consumption models which use different types of energy other than fossil fuels;
  • Conduct a household energy audit to contextualize their energy consumption patterns;
  • Investigate the process of photosynthesis and its role in the formation of both fossil fuels and biofuels.
  • Applying an engineering design process, students design, build, and operate bench-top scale algae bioreactors;
  • Design monitoring systems and apply standard laboratory processes in quantifying the efficiency of their systems at producing algae and purifying the end products;
  • Learn about the production of ethanol from cellulosic plant sources;
  • Investigate the role of enzymes as well as different technologies used to produce ethanol and design an ethanol separation and purification system; and
  • Develop a proposal for a commercial scale biofuels manufacturing plant.



Course Title:  Engineering Design and Development (EDD)


Course Description:  This capstone course enables students to apply what they have learned in academic and pre-engineering courses as they complete challenging, self-directed projects.  Students work in teams to design and build solutions to authentic engineering problems. An engineer from the school’s partnership team mentors each student team.  Students keep journals of notes, sketches, mathematical calculations and scientific research.  Student teams make progress reports to their peers, mentor and instructor and exchange constructive criticism and consultation.  At the end of the course, teams present their research paper and defend their projects to a panel of engineers, business leaders and engineering college educators for professional review and feedback.  This course equips students with the independent study skills that they will need in postsecondary education and careers in engineering and engineering technology.


From launching space explorations to delivering safe, clean water to communities, engineers find solutions to pressing problems and turn their ideas into reality. PLTW Engineering empowers students to step into the role of an engineer, adopt a problem-solving mindset, and make the leap from dreamers to doers. Each PLTW Engineering course engages students in interdisciplinary activities like working with a client to design a home, programming electronic devices or robotic arms, or exploring algae as a biofuel source. These activities not only build knowledge and skills in engineering, but also empower students to develop essential skills such as problem solving, critical and creative thinking, communication, collaboration, and perseverance.