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SME Speaks: Education Foundation Inspires Young People

A good education is the key to much of what we all want in life. In this month's SME member communications, we celebrate the Society's commitment to education. Evidence of this commitment to youth is found in the programs and actions of the SME Education Foundation. The Foundation is dedicated to inspire young people to excel in math, science, and technology, to support them through high school and college, and to prepare them to be the next generation of engineering and manufacturing workers.

Manufacturing today requires a degree of technical sophistication that depends on a workforce prepared to meet its challenges. Engaging the young in academic programs that will allow them to be the future workforce of manufacturing engineers requires a concerted effort from us all. We need this workforce to solve the problems of the future like global warming, alternative energy, and health care. We need this workforce to keep our manufacturing capabilities competitive in today's global environment. Manufacturing supports 14% of the US GDP and provides 11% of the jobs. A healthy manufacturing sector is essential to a healthy economy.

According to the National Association of Manufacturers, more than 80% of manufacturers say they are already having trouble finding qualified employees. In fact, 60% of manufacturers are forced to reject half of all applicants because of a lack of basic skills. That means that our students are graduating from high school and college without the skills they need to fill the jobs available today. And that's a problem, not just for manufacturing, but for all of America. Projections for the future based on current graduation rates of engineers indicate the problem will only get worse.

Students form—or rather, lose—their interest in subjects like science and math long before high school. No matter how many high-school programs we put into place, if we have no students interested in filling them, we've made no progress.

But it doesn't have to be that way. If our students are proclaiming a lack of interest in math, engineering, science, and technology, then they simply haven''t been shown how interesting those fields can be. And even more importantly, they haven't been shown in time.

But how do you convince a 12 or 13-year old to invest time and energy in a math or science course? How do you compete with sports heroes and show business stars? Show them the magic! Point out all of the fascinating aspects of these careers that they might not have considered. From the shampoo they use to the cell phones they covet, a huge part of every kid's world is the result of engineering. We have to show them. And then show them how they can make it better. That is exactly the type of thinking that drove the design for our recently re-launched web site,

Several programs offer excellent options for igniting the kind of student interest needed to save our country's manufacturing industries. Project Lead The Way provides two school programs: Gateway to Technology, and Pathway to Engineering, which use an engaging, real-world problem-solving model. These programs give a student exposure to the world of math, engineering, and science from middle school through high-school graduation.

Our Foundation's innovative program, the Science, Technology and Engineering Preview Summer (STEPS) camp, introduces middle school students to the magic of science, technology, and engineering. STEPS was created 10 years ago in response to the inability to find qualified women faculty for manufacturing engineering programs. In 2006, we sponsored nine STEPS camps. We also piloted three new STEPS Academies in collaboration with Project Lead The Way targeted to students entering middle school. Using a standardized curriculum and Project Lead The Way instructors, we can grow the number of STEPS Academies so we can reach many more students. In 2007, we anticipate sponsoring over 60 STEPS Academies in 14 states, showing more than 1000 young people how exciting math, engineering, science, and technology can be.

These programs have proven their success and popularity with kids, and they help to equip our students with the resources they need to develop the skills that will earn them employment and a livelihood. But to meet the growing demand for highly skilled manufacturing and technology workers, these programs, and others like them, have to expand. The SME Education Foundation is reaching out to thousands of young people who might never have known what engineering or manufacturing is about. How can you help? Get involved with your school districts. Help start a STEPS Academy and/or a Gateway to Technology Program in your school. Support the SME Education Foundation with your time and energy and your financial gifts. We have to show them the magic. And we have to start now!


Foundation Announces Youth Program Funding

The SME Education Foundation recently announced that it would commit $900,000 in 2007 to youth programs that expose students to the exciting possibilities of manufacturing and engineering careers. The funding will support Science, Technology and Engineering Preview Summer (STEPS) Camps and Academies as well as Project Lead The Way's (PLTW) "Gateway to Technology" middle school curriculum. (See sidebar for list of STEPS locations.)

According to SME Education Foundation President, Glen Pearson, "We are thrilled to have the opportunity to create and support programs like STEPS and PLTW that have such incredible potential to inspire students to pursue careers in manufacturing and engineering. By investing in these programs, we have a chance to make a real difference in the future of manufacturing and, as a result, the future of our economy."

This is the SME Education Foundation's 11th year of support for the STEPS programs, which began as STEPS Camps for girls at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in 1997 with the Foundation's funding. STEPS Camps, residential programs held at colleges and universities, use hands-on experience with high-tech equipment to inspire students' interest in science, technology, and engineering careers.

In order to increase the programs' reach, the Foundation partnered with Project Lead The Way to create STEPS Academies for middle-school students. These co-ed day camps use PLTW's exciting curriculum to ignite students' interest in engineering and technology, as well as to interest them in entering PLTW's Gateway to Technology curriculum during the school year.

Established in 1980, the SME Education Foundation has contributed more than $3 million over the past 11 years to support youth programs and initiatives that inspire, support, and prepare young people for careers in manufacturing. For more information about these and other SME Education Foundation programs, go to


Watch METV Holemaking Video

Continue your manufacturing education by tuning in to a free METV video. In June, you can watch Basic Holemaking, a 24-min video that is part of the Fundamental Manufacturing Processes video series.

Drilling is the most common holemaking operation, producing chips by the relative motion of the drill and the workpiece. This program provides information on what types of drills are used on various applications. Also included are operating parameters and good drilling practices to help operators understand what is happening inside the drilled hole. Holemaking machines, the holemaking process, twist drills, spade drills, indexable insert drills, all are shown to explain basic holemaking theory. Hole finishing operations such as reaming, boring, counterboring, countersinking, and honing are shown to provide and introduce these processes.

You can view this video in its entirety 24/7 at, where you will also find the schedule for upcoming videos. METV is an outstanding resource for you and your colleagues, brought to you by Manufacturing Engineering magazine.


Supporting Education for 70 Years

In 1938, athe president of the American Society of Tool Engineers (known today as the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, or SME), Walter F. Wagner, appointed a committee to: "Work out a means whereby the ASTE can sponsor a course in tool engineering in universities who may want same." Two years later, the Society’s first ever National Education Committee developed two proposed courses of tool-engineering education. One was a twoyear, junior college course, and the other was a four-year course resulting in a Bachelor of Science degree.

Over the next few years, the Society kept moving forward with this project, and published a suggested curriculum for tool engineering in the flagship member publication, The Tool Engineer. This momentum gained national prominence, and the New York State Education Department recognized ASTE for its efforts in the education field.

In 1945, the New York Vocational Teachers Association teamed with ASTE to prepare a tool design manual, and that same year the New York Institute of Technology at Rochester offered—for the first time—a full course in tool engineering.

SME remains manufacturing's most passionate advocate and supporter of curriculum development. To date, the SME Education Foundation has awarded more than $15.5 million in grant funding to colleges and universities. The Foundation is committed to helping prepare tomorrow's manufacturing workforce by encouraging collaboration between industry and educational institutions, while stimulating the use of new and emerging manufacturing technology in innovative approaches to the development of manufacturing curricula.

Additionally, university and college educators are using SME certifications as an outcome assessment tool for their manufacturing engineering students. Read more about these initiatives at


This article was first published in the June 2007 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. 

Published Date : 6/1/2007

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