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SME Speaks: Inspire, Prepare and Support

 Brian A. Ruestow

By Brian A. Ruestow
SME Education Foundation (SME-EF)

In 1980, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) established the SME Manufacturing Engineering Education Foundation, now known as the SME Education Foundation (SME-EF). The $1 million fund established by the Society financed the Foundation during its first five years. At the time, the hope was that the Foundation would "act as a catalyst in providing financial and technical support to a broad range of educational institutions."

Thirty-three years later, the Foundation has far exceeded this original expectation and gone on to invest $8 million in youth programs, helping more than 35,000 to explore career opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as well as Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) education. SME-EF has also grant funded more than $8 million in scholarships to students pursuing manufacturing-related careers, and invested $17.3 million in grants to 35 colleges and universities to develop industry-driven curricula.

Why is all of this necessary you may ask? The reality is that 10,000 Baby Boomers are retiring every day, and over half of the manufacturing workforce will be eligible to retire in the next 10 years. There’s also an estimated 600,000 unfilled manufacturing jobs across the country because the shortage of advanced manufacturing engineers, technologists and technicians is impacting most industries. Manufacturing is one of only three industries that create the wealth of a nation. Without its success, the United States’ prosperity and standard of living are threatened.

Thank You SME-EF

Throughout the years, the Foundation has grown and evolved to take on this unique challenge—changing the image of manufacturing in the minds and eyes of our youth, as well as their parents. It has done this through its many programs and services, including:


PRIME (Partnership Response in Manufacturing

The PRIME model is a call to action designed to create strong partnerships between organizations, businesses and exemplary schools to provide a comprehensive community-based approach to manufacturing education. This program started in 2011 with the recognition of six high schools. It has been expanded this year to include an additional nine schools for the 2012–2013 academic school year:


  • Calera High School (Calera, AL
  • Hawthorne High School (Los Angeles) 
  • Esperanza High School (Anaheim, CA)
  • Petaluma High School (Petaluma, CA) 
  • Wheeling High School (Chicago) 
  • McKenzie Center for Innovation and Technology
  • Walker Career Center (Indianapolis) 
  • Cedar Falls High School (Cedar Falls, IA) 
  • Westfield Vocational Technical High School
    (Westfield, MA) 
  • Jackson Area Career Center (Jackson, MI) 
  • Summit Technology Academy (Kansas City, MO) 
  • Centerville High School (Dayton, OH) 
  • Kettering Fairmont High School (Dayton, OH) 
  • Lynde & Harry Bradley Technology and Trade School (Milwaukee)

Nominations for 2013–2014 PRIME schools are currently being accepted, and I encourage you to submit a nomination at



Since 1998, SME-EF has provided more than $5.3 million dollars in financial aid through its various scholarship programs. In 2012, the Foundation awarded more than $521,400 to 205 students, including its most coveted scholarship, the SME Education Foundation Family Scholarship, worth up to $80,000. This scholarship supports the children or grandchildren of SME members to encourage their pursuit of careers in manufacturing engineering and technology. The 2012 scholarship winner was Christopher Webb, son of James Webb, an SME member in Kansas City Chapter 57. Webb is pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Arkansas.

SME-EF awards scholarships to graduating high school seniors, current undergraduates and master’s or doctoral degree students pursuing degrees in manufacturing and related fields at two-year and four-year colleges. Submissions of the 2013 scholarship applications were recently completed, and we need SME members to volunteer as reviewers. Anyone interested in reviewing the applications online, please email

Through this award-winning, colorful and interactive website, students are challenged and engaged in basic engineering and science principles. The website also provides interesting and useful educational resources for teachers. As technology changes, so does the content on If you want to inspire your children to pursue a career in a STEM-related field, check out this website!

I am proud to be associated with such a great organization that continues to inspire, prepare and support the next generation of manufacturing engineers. The Foundation cannot do it alone, however. It needs SME members, corporate partners, volunteers and donations to continue its great work. We can all make a difference in promoting the importance of manufacturing, as well as careers in manufacturing. Visit to see how you can help. ME


Recognition for SME Members

SME has many awards recognizing individuals for their accomplishments in manufacturing, but what about its members and all of their efforts on behalf of the Society? Three member-specific awards are available to do just that! The

Joseph A. Siegel Service Award is bestowed for significant and unique contributions that benefit the Society; the Award of Merit is for members who have made valued, balanced contributions to the Society's professional activities and growth; and the President’s Award is intended for those who have gone above and beyond in service to their fellow members. Nominate a deserving member today at ME

This article was first published in the February 2013 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.  Click here for PDF

Published Date : 2/1/2013

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