By Jim Lorincz
It’s difficult to remember a time when manufacturing and education shared as many headlines as they do today. In fact, the continued success of one, manufacturing, is inextricably related to the quality of the other, education of the young people who will shape and lead manufacturing in the future. Today, the priority is training in the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and math. But first young people have to be attracted to manufacturing careers. This month’s Focus on the WorkForce shows that there are many ways in which this can be accomplished. The emergence of a totally new technology, additive manufacturing, has become a "gaming" attraction that has developed a following among the young in technically oriented activities. Other efforts to attract the young to careers in manufacturing by SME, the publisher of Manufacturing Engineering, and others are recounted at http://savingusmanufacturing.com/blog/.
Attracting the young to the technical and scientific principles so important to manufacturing is one thing. Another is providing the learning environment in which their capabilities can be developed and enriched. To that end, the SME Education Foundation (SME EF) has announced an initiative called PRIME: Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education. PRIME is committed to "changing the future of manufacturing education and addressing the shortage of manufacturing and technical talent in the US." The partnership theme runs deep in PRIME, which is designed to create "strong partnerships between organizations, business, and exemplary schools to provide a comprehensive community-based approach to manufacturing education."
PRIME schools are selected based on attributes they share in common. Schools can be recognized by their manufacturing curriculum and/or the Project Lead the Way CIP (PLTW) program, the skill and energy of instructors, strong administrative support from the district and school, as well as corporate support or the potential for support from the manufacturing community. SME member involvement, including with SME local chapters, is essential. Once identified as PRIME schools, their programs are eligible for benefits including: grants to update equipment, software, and/or professional development; funding for Gateway Academy summer camp; student scholarships; and assistance in connecting with manufacturing business through mentorships, tours, and job shadows. Student projects and resources can be accessed at web site mycareerme.org. Resources include access to local SME members, informational SME Webinars, complimentary instructor SME membership, and recognition in the community by flying a PRIME school banner.
PRIME partner benefits for corporate and individual supporters include changing the perception of manufacturing for the next generation, providing relevance to curriculum by providing "real world" connections, offering instructors insight into manufacturing, and focusing philanthropic/volunteer efforts on a program impacting local schools. Finally, corporate/individual supporters will receive recognition for support with a customized PR plan. For more information on PRIME and other SME EF programs, including the award-winning "Manufacturing is Cool" web site, please visit www.smeef.org.