Students at Bluffton High and H.E. McCracken Middle schools can now earn college credit for their work in engineering courses.
The schools are the latest in Beaufort County to become certified for Project Lead the Way. Along with Battery Creek and Beaufort high schools, they offer pre-engineering courses through the national project's curriculum.
The entry-level courses introduce students to engineering concepts. Later courses focus on aerospace or civil engineering.
If students maintain good grades and do well on end-of-course exams in the project-based courses, they can earn 12 college credit hours through the University of South Carolina.
"There are so many opportunities (students) can have," said Sebastian Rete, who teaches one of the courses at McCracken Middle. "Depending on their skills they might pursue a career in engineering or drafting or become a technician."
To become certified for the project, teachers and guidance counselors undergo training, according to Ralph Lataille, the district's career and technology education coordinator.
Schools must also have the required technology and create an advisory council of teachers, engineers, parents and students to review the curriculum and engineering advancements, as well as suggest improvements.
Rete said interest in the courses has grown steadily at McCracken. About 35 students are currently enrolled in his introduction-to-engineering course. Next year, he expectsenrollment to double.