Businesses, Plymouth-Canton academy partner for manufacturing careers

PLYMOUTH—Wayne County businesses have joined forces to partner with the SME Education Foundation to make available education opportunities for students of Starkweather Academy, an alternative and adult education program that is part of the Plymouth-Canton Community Schools.

Seven companies—Alpha USA, Clips and Clamps Industries, Link Engineering Co., Loc Performance Products Inc., Master Automatic Inc., Roush Industries Inc., and Skyway Precision Inc.—invested in the collaboration, formed through SME’s Partnership Response In Manufacturing Education (PRIME) schools initiative.

“The launch of this partnership underscores our commitment to preparing students for future careers in manufacturing, an area which is currently experiencing a talent shortage,” said Monica L. Merritt, superintendent of the Plymouth-Canton school district. “The support we’ve received from our business community and local leaders has been phenomenal, and we are all encouraged by the prospect of preparing our talented students to thrive in our local business communities.”

SME PRIME schools directly address the manufacturing and engineering talent shortage by partnering with industry to inform and provide modern equipment, tailored curriculum and hands-on training to high schools across the country. The national program provides students with practical experience, knowledge and skills using state-of-the-art technology and equipment, while allowing companies to support the career direction of youth through mentoring, internships and job shadowing.

“SME PRIME schools are central to our commitment to inspiring, preparing and supporting young people,” said Rob Luce, SME Education Foundation vice president. “We’re proud to now include Starkweather Academy students in the SME PRIME schools’ initiative as we continue to expand the program across the country.”

Since 2011, SME PRIME schools have reached more than 50,000 students in 46 communities across 22 states. Last year, 84 percent of graduating SME PRIME students intended to pursue careers in manufacturing, and 60 percent of those students planned to pursue postsecondary education in a field directly related to manufacturing.

The launch of the 47th SME PRIME school at Starkweather Academy will be celebrated with presentations and student demonstrations during an event at the Academy on Friday, May 3. Representatives of the school, local manufacturers, the Plymouth-Canton business community, and state and local officials are slated to attend.

“We are excited for this SME PRIME school in Wayne County and hope there are many more to come,” said Warren C. Evans, Wayne County Executive. “What’s important about this program is the curriculum is designed with input from employers, which helps ensure we’re connecting students with viable career pathways as the manufacturing industry evolves. The primary barrier to growth in manufacturing is a talent shortage, and this program will help strengthen the pipeline to fill those gaps.”

Since its creation by SME in 1979, the SME Education Foundation has provided grants, scholarships and awards through its partnerships with corporations, organizations, foundations and individual donors. Each year, the Foundation awards several hundred scholarships to students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering and technology disciplines closely related to manufacturing. The organization also administers scholarship awards on behalf of major corporations connected to manufacturing. Additionally, the Foundation’s PRIME initiative was created to provide high school students with a tailored advanced manufacturing and STEM education.

Visit the SME Education Foundation at


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