Project Lead The Way

At Quince Orchard High School, we have a team of talented teachers working with an incredible group of students and parents to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in the high school setting.  See our outreach flyer for details about why Engineering is important and what you can do at QO and beyond!

What is Project Lead The Way (PLTW)?

Project Lead The Way is a non-profit organization based in Clifton Park, NY that has created a hands-on, project-based engineering curriculum for high schools and middle schools and biomedical sciences courses for high schools.  The courses are designed to "engage students on multiple levels, expose them to areas of study that they typically do not pursue, and provide them with a foundation and proven path to college and career success." (

Upcoming Events

  • Opportunities for Girls - There are some incredible opportunities for Women in Computer Science and Engineering.  We will be updating information about upcoming events, scholarships, and more in our "Girls in Engineering and Computer Science Opportunities" GoogleDoc.  Check it out to get information about items below and check the document regularly for updates.
    • UMBC has many activities and scholarships available - HS Senior Girls Event on October 20th, CWIT Scholars Program, CyberSecurity Scholars Program.
    • NCWIT Aspiration Awards
    • Girls in Technology Mentoring Program
  • Learn, Explore, and Experience - Online there are also many sites that allow students and parents to explore different engineering areas, play interactive games, participate in real-world problem solving, go through tutorials on software, watch videos, hear from current engineers and more.  Check out some of these sites on our Explore Engineering page. 

What courses does QO offer?

How to Make it Work – With all of the courses offered at QO, it is important to start planning as an 8th grade student to ensure that you make the most of your high school career.  See the PLTW Coursework Plansto determine how to schedule your 4 years at QO, combinations include PLTW, CISCO and PLTW, AP Signature and PLTW, AP Art/Computer Science/Math Signature and PLTW.

  • Introduction to Engineering Design (IED), taught by Mr. Steve Mikulski and Mr. Derek Sontz - designed for 9th and 10th grade students, this introductory course focuses on the design process and its application while students learn to use 3D modeling software and work in teams.
  • Principles of Engineering (POE), taught by Mr. Marty Nelson - designed for 10th and 11th grade students, this second year course explores a variety of topics including mechanisms, energy, statics, materials, and kinematics while developing and applying problem-solving skills.
  • Digital Electronics (DE), taught by Ms. Colleen Kelly and Mr. Mario Castillo - designed for 10th and 11th grade students, this is the third course in the series which focuses on using combinational and sequential logic design and their use as the foundation for all modern electronic devices.
  •   Biotechnical Engineering (BioTech), taught by Mr. Paul Dethlefsen ( designed for 11th and 12th grade students, this is the fourth course in the series which uses hands-on projects to engage students in engineering design problems related to biomechanics, cardiovascular engineering, genetic engineering, tissue engineering, biomedical devices, forensics and bioethics.
  • Engineering Design and Development (EDD), taught by Mr. Marty Nelson - designed for 12th grade students, this fourth year course serves as the capstone for the PLTW series where students work to design and develop an original solution to a valid open-ended technical problem by applying the engineering design priocess.

What opportunities are available to students?

The PLTW program at QO is constantly growing, we are currently working on getting the fourth and fifth years of the program in place, while working with our students we have two student groups focused on PLTW students, the Cougar Engineering Club and Girls in Engineering.

  • The iSTEM aka Engineering Club - sponsored by Mr. Derek Sontz, this group explores the fields of Engineering while allowing students within the difference PLTW courses to meet and work together to solve different problems and work on different projects.  The club also has teams competing in the FIRST Robotics competitions and the CyberPatriots competitions.
  • Girls in Engineering - sponsored by Ms. Colleen Kelly, this group explores the role of Women in Engineering while promoting getting more girls involved, helping girls work together, offering support and tutoring for each other.

How can I get involved?

QO is currently going through the process to become nationally certified as a PLTW school.  Our engineering program was visited by staff from UMBC and MSDE in March of 2012 to determine if we met all the criteria needed to be an accredited engineering site - WE DID!  We are a fully certified PLTW School!  During and beyond the certification process not only are the staff teaching the courses involved but we have a team of students and community members who we work closely with.  PLTW courses are designed to involve the whole community in the learning process providing students with links to the real-world and a diverse and knowledgeable support system.

  • Students - TAKE A COURSE!  If you're interested, talk to a teacher, talk to a friend in the course, talk to your counselor - we're all happy to answer your questions.
  • Parents and Community Members - we are always looking for volunteers to help with our clubs, speakers interested in talking with students about Engineering, internship sponsors for our students either during the summer, during the school day, or after school.  If interested in getting involved, please contact one of the teachers.


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