Airport HS students get manufacturing, engineering education from SME

CARLETON–About 130 students at Airport High School in Carleton now have access to new manufacturing education opportunities for the 2022-23 school year through the SME Education Foundation, the philanthropic arm of SME, a 90-year-old non-profit association committed to advancing manufacturing technology and developing a skilled workforce.

An event celebrating the launch of Airport High School’s PRIME School program took place Friday, including additional details about the program, including educational content and involved participants.

Supported and informed by private industry, SME PRIME (Partnership Response In Manufacturing Education) builds cost-effective and tailored manufacturing and engineering programs in high schools across the country, providing equipment, curriculum, professional development, scholarships, and manufacturing-focused extra-curricular activities to students and teachers. Nationwide, the SME Education Foundation provides hands-on manufacturing and engineering education to more than 81 schools in 22 states.

The SME Education Foundation received $6 million from the state of Michigan as part of the 2021 education budget to scale the SME PRIME initiative across the state. The award increases the number of schools participating in the unique manufacturer-educator partnership-driven SME PRIME initiative by 16. There were already 17 SME PRIME schools in Michigan.

“Coordinated by our staff of highly qualified education program managers, SME PRIME schools are a model; a unique approach to manufacturing education and career preparation implemented by scores of schools across the nation,” said SME Education Foundation Vice President Rob Luce. “They include a curriculum plan of three foundational pathways teaching metrology, quality, CAD-CAM, and additive manufacturing or 3D printing, and include one elective pathway that is informed by local industry needs.”

Luce said that the foundation is focused on helping secondary education students start careers in manufacturing and fill an estimated 2.5 million jobs that will be available by 2030.

The foundation will continue to work with the Michigan Manufacturers Association to solicit input from area manufacturers to inform the developmental curriculum. The MMA, which represents traditional and advanced manufacturing enterprises across the state, has been a partner in developing Michigan SME PRIME schools and is critically important in supporting efforts by an industry facing a limited talent pipeline and misperceptions about work environments and opportunities for young people.

“This significant expansion of the SME PRIME school initiative benefits students and Michigan manufacturers who need qualified, prepared employees,” said Mike Johnston, MMA’s executive vice president of government affairs and workforce development. “Michigan manufacturers need ambitious, creative, and prepared young people ready to find their bright futures in advanced manufacturing. We are proud to advocate for our manufacturing partners and for Michigan students.”

The foundation’s 2021 SME PRIME Outcomes Report indicates that 89% of SME PRIME seniors nationwide pursued careers or education in manufacturing or engineering upon graduation.

“Airport Community Schools understands the importance of preparing students to become college and career ready, said John Krimmel, superintendent of Airport Community Schools. “Our students and staff members are fortunate to be able to take advantage of the opportunities the PRIME grant will bring immediately and in the future. Not only will our students receive extensive hands-on, state-of-the-art training that is applicable in the manufacturing field, but our community business partners also will reap the benefits of our graduates being prepared to support the workforce they desperately need.”

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