The University of South Carolina’s College of Engineering and Computing and S.C. Project Lead the Way, announced Jan. 31 that BMW Manufacturing will commit to bolster science, technology, engineering and math learning at four middle schools in Cherokee County. BMW will give $300,000 to fund the dynamic programs of Project Lead the Way for a three-year period at John E. Ewing, Gaffney, Blacksburg and Granard middle schools.
Johannes Trauth, vice president of human resources with BMW Manufacturing, said the Spartanburg-based company recognized a need in its own backyard. Project Lead the Way was available at middle schools in Spartanburg and Greenville counties but not in Cherokee County, an area vital to its employee base.
“The industry’s workforce must be ready to meet future technological challenges,” Trauth said. “Learning skills offered in Project Lead the Way programs are important for the long-term success of students. These young people are our future engineers, designers and inventors.”
Trauth joined Quincie L. Moore, superintendent of the Cherokee County School District, and Rex Bolinger, senior vice president and chief partnerships officer for Project Lead the Way, at Granard for the announcement to teachers, business leaders and county officials.
Launched in 2002, Project Lead the Way is a national nonprofit that offers STEM learning experiences for K-12 students and teachers that include hands-on activities, projects and complex problem solving. The University of South Carolina’s College of Engineering and Computing is the S.C. affiliate for Project Lead the Way and provides participating teachers with the education and training needed to implement the learning programs.
Krystal DuBose, the S.C. Project Lead the Way affiliate director in College of Engineering and Computing, said two of the middle schools funded by BMW feed into Gaffney High School, which already has an established Project Lead the Way program in engineering.
Trauth said the majority of BMW Manufacturing employees live within 50 to 75 miles of the Spartanburg. Since 1992, when the BMW announced it would build its first full manufacturing facility outside of Germany in South Carolina, the company has focused on growing talent locally as well as attracting top talent to the state.
BMW Manufacturing considers K-12 and higher education as essential to creating the next generation of innovators for it to remain ahead of its competition, and to move South Carolina communities and the nation forward through future advances in technology and automation. Trauth said the collaboration with S.C. Project Lead the Way reflects that commitment.
The programs funded by BMW’s gift are among more than 300 SC Project Lead the Way programs underway at 164 South Carolina K-12 schools. BMW joins Boeing South Carolina as a corporate partner of S.C. Project Lead the Way. Boeing South Carolina funds programs at various elementary, middle and high schools in the state.
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