At NIWeek 2018, we recognized Dr. Vince Bertram, the President and CEO of Project Lead The Way (PLTW), for his impact in the STEM field. We caught up with Dr. Bertram and asked him about PLTW, STEM, and what receiving the NI Innovations in STEM Award means to him.
Q: What inspired you to want to be involved in education, and when did you discover this interest?
Vince Bertram: Education is a driving force in my life, but it wasn’t always. It was my teachers who believed in and inspired me. I wanted to be an educator to make a difference for students, much like my teachers had done for me.
Q: How has joining PLTW impacted you?
VB: I was first introduced to PLTW as a high school principal when I saw what could happen when students are inspired and engaged in real-world learning. When the opportunity to lead the national organization became available, I saw it as a platform to impact millions of students across the U.S. We have an opportunity to not just improve, but to revolutionize PreK-12 education.
Q: How should we encourage students to explore STEM fields, and why is this important to you?
VB: We know that students decide at an early age whether they are good at math and science. We also know that students pursue subjects in which they are confident. That means we have to start early and provide students with clear pathways to careers. Students must see the relevancy of what they’re learning in the classroom and how it applies in the real world. This is an economic and national security issue and essential for our students’ economic prosperity. For many students, it is their path out of poverty.
Q: What does it mean to you to be honored with 2018 Innovations in STEM Award?
VB: It’s an honor to be recognized by our great partner, National Instruments, which is a company that has empowered engineers and scientists for more than 40 years to solve some of our most pressing challenges. This award is a reflection of the transformation happening in PLTW classrooms across the U.S. We are proud to partner with some of our nation’s best teachers to deliver an inspiring and engaging learning experience for students so they have the skills to pursue whatever career path they choose.
Q: How do you plan to continue fostering the education of students in STEM into the future?
VB: PLTW continues to grow rapidly, and we will remain relentless in our pursuit to be in every school district in America. Every student deserves this type of experience, and we are committed to partnering with educators to break down barriers to expand access.
See how PLTW provides transformative learning experiences for PreK-12 students and teachers across the U.S. at https://www.pltw.org/.