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CIM Centers at PLTW High Schools Add VEX Robotics Design System with $400,000 in SME-EF Funding

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The SME Education Foundation has funded $400,000 to Project Lead The Way (PLTW) for the implementation of the VEX Robotics Design System at high school CIM centers across the country giving students access to a unique, hands-on robotics curriculum in the classroom, as they would math and science.

DEARBORN, Mich., February 28, 2011 — Workers who have transferable skills of advanced manufacturing technology are golden for industries with little time to waste and anxious to expand their restructured companies.

Responding to the needs of industry, the SME Education Foundation has provided $400,000 in grant funding to its industry partner, Project Lead The Way (PLTW) to upgrade its Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) centers in high schools with the VEX Robotics Design System. An additional $75,000 in grant-funding is providing VEX kits for PLTW master teachers responsible for the training of PLTW instructors. The robotic and instructor upgrades will be completed by the fall of 2012 and affect 300 high schools.

The VEX Robotics Design System — the exclusive platform offered to PLTW schools by PLTW, offers updated, rigorous hands-on project-based robotics lessons to its students. While the majority of robotics programs for students are either after-school or at weekend competitions, PLTW students now have the opportunity to experience this hands-on robotics curriculum in the classroom, as they would math and science.

The exclusive relationship with VEX Design System Robotics gives each PLTW classroom access to participation in the VEX Robotics Competition. The competition is the largest and fastest growing middle and high school robotics competition in the world, allowing students to apply their robotics knowledge from the classroom in a unique, problem-solving environment.

"It's important for young people to find out who they are and what they're good at." says Bart A. Aslin, chief operating officer, SME Education Foundation. "We're bringing a real-world robotics environment to CIM center classrooms making it possible for students to have access to sophisticated robotics programs with involved, highly trained master teachers. Our efforts are all about paying more attention to young people in what we think is a critical time in their educational life, giving them career opportunities with transferable skills in advanced manufacturing."

The Foundation is also working with manufacturers and local businesses serving on industry advisory boards at each of the PLTW high schools across the country. These companies and SME Chapters are being engaged by the Foundation for the expansion of its efforts in establishing CIM centers at high schools.

The first CIM centers were introduced and funded by the SME Education Foundation at pre-existing PLTW schools in Charlotte, N.C. and Lee's Summit, Mo. Funded states now include: Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

Says Aslin, "Companies are re-evaluating their competitive positions and are clear about the lack of skilled workers they need to expand and innovate. For the worker, it's personal and all about initiative. Their job security, quality of life and the education and future job prospects for their children are at risk. We are funding these and other technology-based programs to give students — at all economic levels, an opportunity to become technically skilled with the ability to think beyond the world they live in and learn how to innovate and create. That is the job of an engineer."

About VEX Robotics:

VEX Robotics, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Innovation First International, is a leading provider of educational robotics products to middle schools, high schools and colleges around the world. The company has over 250 man years of experience supporting educational robotics programs and extensive engineering resources on two continents dedicated to the VEX Robotics platform. For more information, visit www.vexrobotics.com.

About Project Lead the Way:

Project Lead The Way, Inc., is a national non-profit organization that is the leading provider of rigorous and innovation STEM education curricular programs used in K-12 schools. The PLTW comprehensive curriculum, which is collaboratively developed by PLTW teachers, university educators, engineering and biomedical professionals, and school administrators, emphasizes critical thinking, creativity, innovation and real-world problem-solving. More than 350,000 students are expected to take a PLTW course during this school year. For more information, visit www.pltw.org.

About the SME Education Foundation:

The SME Education Foundation is committed to inspiring, supporting and preparing the next generation of manufacturing engineers and technologists in the advancement of manufacturing education. Created by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers in 1979, the SME Education Foundation has provided more than $31 million since 1980 in grants, scholarships and awards through its partnerships with corporations, organizations, foundations, and individual donors. Visit the SME Education Foundation at www.smeef.org. Also visit CareerMe.org, for information on advanced manufacturing careers and our award-winning Web site for young people, www.ManufacturingisCool.com.

Questions or comments may be directed to the SME Education Foundation by phone 313.425.3300, or email at foundation@sme.org.

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If you have any questions or comments, please contact SME Public Relations at 313.425.3000, email communications@sme.org or fax: 313.425.3403.