SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — Students in communities in every corner of Michigan, from the Upper Peninsula to metropolitan areas, will have access to new career and technical education opportunities through the Michigan-based SME Education Foundation.
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 are already 17 SME PRIME schools in Michigan.
Supported and informed by private industry, SME PRIME (Partnership Response In Manufacturing Education) builds cost-effective and tailored manufacturing/engineering programs in high schools across the country, providing equipment, curriculum, professional development, scholarships and STEM-focused extracurricular activities to students and teachers.
“Bringing cutting-edge STEM programming to Michigan students and professional development to our teachers is a win-win for our schools and future leaders,” said Michigan State Senator Jim Stamas (Midland), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who was instrumental in securing legislative support. “The SME PRIME model provides a clear pathway for students to find successful careers right here in Michigan.”
The 2021 SME PRIME Outcomes Report indicates that 89% of SME PRIME seniors nationwide pursued careers or education in manufacturing or engineering after graduation.
Michigan Senator Wayne Schmidt (Traverse City), chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on K-12 and Michigan Department of Education, who was also crucial to obtaining support, said “Michigan is a global leader in manufacturing and has been for more than 100 years. That’s our legacy and our future: we must provide education and training opportunity to students, communities and manufacturers across the state.”
SME PRIME schools implement career pathways that provide robust, hands-on instruction that aligns with industry needs and industry-recognized certifications. There are nearly 500,000 U.S. manufacturing positions unfilled. That shortage will grow to 2.1 million unfilled jobs by 2030. SME PRIME career pathways address this critical shortage by teaching in-demand skills and knowledge in additive manufacturing, computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing, industrial maintenance, machining and fabrication, mechatronics/robotics, metrology (precise measurement) and quality, and welding.
“Coordinated by our staff of highly qualified education program managers, SME PRIME schools are a model; a unique approach to STEM education and career preparation implemented by scores of schools across the nation,” said SME Education Foundation Vice President Rob Luce.
State Rep. Joe Tate, vice chair of the Michigan House Appropriations Committee and key to the legislative support for the appropriation, said “STEM skills and education are critical to maintaining Michigan leadership in manufacturing. We recognized the value in the Foundation’s unique approach to creating a prepared workforce – and the value of this education for our communities and our young people.”
The Foundation is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, and to providing economic advancement opportunities to underrepresented and/or economically disadvantaged populations: 63% of the schools are designated as Title 1 schools. Of the 16,708 students with access to new SME PRIME school opportunities, 45% qualify for free and reduced lunch, and 38% of the students reflect populations historically underrepresented within manufacturing.
Thanks to a partnership with the Michigan Manufacturers Association, the SME PRIME school presence has nearly doubled since the beginning of 2019, from 47 schools to 81, 33 of which will be in Michigan. Communities in 22 states are now home to SME PRIME. Michigan schools that will begin development this year include:
- Airport Community Schools, Carleton
- Alpena High School, Alpena
- Bay City Western High School, Bay City
- Cheboygan High School, Cheboygan
- East Jackson High School, Jackson
- Ecorse Community High School, Ecorse
- Edwardsburg High School, Edwardsburg
- Genesee Career Institute, Flint
- Hancock High School, Hancock
- Innovation Central High School, Grand Rapids
- William D. Ford Career-Technical Center, Westland
- Rudyard High School, Rudyard
- Southfield High School for the Arts and Technology, Southfield
- Three Rivers High School, Three Rivers
- Troy High School, Troy
- West Ottawa High School, Holland
“This significant expansion of the SME PRIME school initiative benefits students and Michigan manufacturers who need qualified, prepared employees,” said Mike Johnston, MMA’s vice president of government affairs. “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 will work with the MMA 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 critically important in supporting efforts by an industry facing a limited talent pipeline and misperceptions about work environments and opportunities for young people.
“GRPS is proud to offer the Academy of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math at Innovation Central High School as one of our dynamic school choices,” said Dr. Leadriane Roby, Superintendent of Grand Rapids Public Schools. “This program offers rigorous college-career prep opportunities for our scholars that will be significantly enhanced by the SME Education Foundation’s PRIME program.”