Ball State alumnus Vince Bertram said he has always had a great curiosity for learning how things work. Today, he is using that same spirit of inquiry to help students in elementary, middle and high schools around the country reach their goals through STEM, science, technology, engineering and mathematics. 

“You learn to play music by playing an instrument, and you learn to play sports by playing a sport, and you learn to do math by applying it to real-world projects and not simply by doing mathematical equations,” Bertram said. “We try to ensure that students learn the real world applications and they have the ability to actually apply the real world problems.”

Seven years ago, Bertram became President and CEO of Project Lead The Way, PLTW,  a non-profit organization that provides students from K-12 activity-based curriculum in STEM subjects. The organization also helps connect students to colleges and universities as well as train thousands of teachers each year. 

Bertram himself has an extensive background in education and has earned many degrees and accomplishments including a Master’s Degree in education policy and management from Harvard, Master of Business Administration Degrees from Georgetown and ESADE Business School, and a Master of Education, Master of Science, Educational Specialist and Bachelor of Science from Ball State. 

“I spent a large part of school, and even the middle of my career, trying to figure out how people can teach students how to learn about their careers, and how they are influenced by things that they are really good at and things that they aren’t good at and that is always increasing,” Bertram said. “Now I have the opportunity to influence much of this.”

Bertram tries to apply what he has learned over the years to PLTW by teaching students problem-solving, communication and collaboration skills and giving them the opportunity to use those skills in real-life situations.  

“Students learn by doing,” Bertram said. “It’s often not enough to have constant knowledge, but you have to be able to apply that knowledge and skills.” 

Recently, Bertram was awarded the Ball State University Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award and Rex Bolinger, senior vice president and chief partnerships officer of PLTW, said Bertram displays his passion for education every day. 

“[Bertram] stated that as the world evolves and changes, learners will find themselves perfectly suited for the things to come, while the learned will find themselves irrelevant in a world that has passed them by,”  Bolinger said. “For Ball State to have instilled this in him and produced such a global leader, we should all be grateful.” 

Contact Ally Johnson with comments at or on Twitter @IamAllyJ.