New program to put students on fast track to engineering

COUNTY — In the coming school year, the School District of Pickens County will partner with the South Carolina Governor’s School of Science and Mathematics to put high school students on the fast track to an engineering degree through a program called Accelerate, district officials announced this week.

Accelerate is a program that builds a student’s interest and capacity in the field of engineering as the student earns college credit from Clemson University in basic engineering courses. It allows students to live at home and continue to attend Pickens County’s high schools while providing the high-quality education for which the Governor’s School is known. The program is open to 10th-, 11th- and 12th-grade students who have successfully completed algebra I prior to the beginning of ninth grade, and who project successful completion of algebra II by the end of ninth grade.

“This is a game-changer for students who are serious about becoming engineers,” SDPC director of secondary education Lori Gwinn said. “Our students can continue to enjoy all of the benefits of school life at our high schools — band, athletics, student government — while taking engineering classes through the Governor’s School. It’s a win-win.”

The classes are live and accessible via computers and teleconferencing. Students will be able to interact with their teachers and with like-minded students from across the state. Students will also have the ability to review recorded lessons afterward.

Successful completion of Accelerate can result in as many as 40 semester hours of college credit, depending on a student’s college choice and major.

“These students can enter our engineering program at Clemson a year ahead of their peers, and can use that time to explore internship and co-op opportunities, study abroad, pursue a minor, or begin a graduate degree, all while on a four-year scholarship — provided that they qualify for one,” said Dr. Jonathan R.A. Maier of the College of Engineering and Science at Clemson University, who is the engineering lead instructor for the Accelerate program.

Admission to the Accelerate program requires an application. Requirements for consideration in the program include: the students’ GPA, course grades or transcripts, standardized test scores, extracurricular and volunteer activities, teacher and guidance counselor recommendations, a written essay, and a mathematics assessment. The Governor’s School will begin taking applications in the fall.

Parents or students who are interested in the program should talk to their school’s guidance counselor or call Gwinn at (864) 397-1014 for more information.