Innovation Portal

The Innovation Portal
for all Students

The Problem

“Many teachers around the country at all levels have been working to integrate the design process as a framework for their students to apply what they were learning in their classes.

The problem was how to organize and showcase all of that work on a scalable level while at the same time finding a way to connect teachers and students to each other and to opportunities for recognition at the national level.  The Innovation Portal -- and the wide collaboration of public and private organizations that it represents -- is proving to be a powerful model for facilitating those connections.”

Taking Action

The following organizations, and the people who represent them , all share a passion for education and recognize the importance of design process thinking in every level of STEM education. Their vision and support are the reason this online application and the resources it contains exits and remains open for use by anyone.

Kern Family Foundation

The idea, framework and functional structure for the Innovation Portal originated as part of the STEM education outreach work of the Kern Family Foundation in the summer of 2009. Already a major supporter and sponsor of PLTW , foundation representatives worked with their own network and that of the PLTW network to identify obstacles to connecting K-12 design and problem solving works to interested post-secondary institutions and industry partners. The need to combine a nationally recognized rubric for the design process with a tool that would place that rubric in the hands of teachers and students lead to Kern funding for a meeting and workshop to determine how to frame the attributes of the design process for large scale assessment. The meeting included representatives from industry, government agencies and all levels of K-16 engineering education.


As part of their national sponsorship of PLTW, Chevron representatives articulated the value of highlighting and recognizing the importance of engineering design and problem solving projects to STEM education and the STEM workforce pipeline. The vision of the Innovation Portal acting as a vehicle for all K-16 students to connect their design and problem solving works to one another and to recognition opportunities was a directly in line with Chevron’s outreach mission and goals.

In October of 2013 Chevron funding made possible a dedicated programming team for the Innovation Portal and the ability for PTLW to vastly accelerate and implement the infrastructure and architecture to support use of the portal by any number of students in any location. Thanks to Chevron’s insight and support, to date over 20,000 students, teachers, mentors and reviewers have created accounts and used the Innovation Portal to connect to one another and the national STEM conversation.

How is the Project Lead The Way organization (PLTW) involved with the Innovation Portal?

Project Lead The Way has designed, built and continues to improve the Innovation Portal for all students because we are committed to supporting, promoting, and working to gain recognition for student works that incorporate the application and integration of knowledge and critical thinking skills associated with original problem solving and design projects.  The Innovation Portal is an excellent vehicle for helping to achieve that goal.  PLTW has also been deeply  involved with the development of the EDPPSR rubric since its inception and continues to be involved in the research, refinement and validation work on the rubric.  As a part of this effort to highlight the design process , PLTW works to expand the partnerships that have led to the Innovation Portal  and the  EDPPSR rubric and increase industry and post-secondary interest and involvement in the Innovation Portal through the number and variety of opportunities available to all students and teachers using the site.

Project Lead the Way

In August of 2010, Project Lead The Way hired a dedicated staff to build on the ideas, and framework developed in partnership with the Kern Family Foundation and work to create a prototype of a functional version of the Innovation Portal. At the same time PLTW also expanded their involvement with the University of Maryland- College Park and the creation of the Engineering Design Process Portfolio Scoring Rubric (EDPPSR), by offering to support their efforts to refine and validate the EDPPSR rubric for use as a large scale assessment tool. This work led to a National Science Foundation research grant to complete that research in which the Innovation Portal plays a central role. The PLTW “Engineering Design and Development” capstone course and input and support from the master teacher core of that curriculum, were the impetus for the initial conversations that led to the Innovation Portal. That continued involvement by this group of teachers led to the Innovation Portal and EDPPSR rubric becoming an integral part of the PLTW capstone curriculum.

PLTW has built the Innovation Portal from its original inception and continues to provide support for all aspects of the portal’s construction, implementation, maintenance, research and continued improvement. The Innovation Portal is free and open for use by all students, teachers and mentors participating in original problem solving works.