President's Message

It’s no coincidence that this message will reach you in the midst of our 2016 holiday season—the time of year when many embrace a sense of giving back to others and their community. I hope after reading this editorial you’ll feel empowered and inspired to give back to the SME Education Foundation, as I’ve done for over three decades now.

Since 1985, I’ve had the pleasure of working with the Foundation in a variety of roles—the latest being as its president. My tenure as president will be coming to an end soon, however, I will continue a role as a Foundation director. I’m excited to continue the work we’re doing to help strengthen manufacturing’s future.

Some of you may wonder why I’ve chosen to stay involved with the Foundation for so long. The answer is simple: While I have many causes I’m passionate about, the SME Education Foundation is one that’s very near and dear to me. As a long-time volunteer, I’ve watched the Foundation grow and evolve to meet manufacturing’s constantly changing landscape. Throughout all of the changes, the Foundation has continued to increase its presence and value through the work it does with students and the industry itself, always with one goal in mind—to increase the number of students who are pursuing an education and/or career in manufacturing.

Why you ask? To answer, we just need to look at what the statistics are telling us—2 million jobs may go unfilled over the next 10 years without the right “skilled” workers in place to fill those positions. Manufacturing’s somewhat “tarnished” reputation has parents viewing manufacturing as dark and dirty work performed by low-skilled workers, which obviously couldn’t be any further from the truth.

So you may be asking yourself, what can I do to bring about change? How can I make an impact? It’s simple—help support SME and the SME Education Foundation and our efforts to change the perceptions about manufacturing by:

Making a donation. Your monthly donation of $25, $50 or $100 could change the life of a student who’s indecisive about their career path, yet decides to apply for an SME Education Foundation scholarship on a whim and then goes on to become a manufacturing engineer. In 2016, 236 students received scholarships from the Foundation; with your help, we could increase that number substantially.

Providing in-kind donations. Is there a piece of equipment your company no longer needs or software you’d be willing to share? With many schools struggling for funding, they can’t afford state-of-the-art equipment or costly software, so whatever you can share helps increase the chances and opportunities for hands-on learning. Students will never know manufacturing’s power if we don’t teach them early on.

Volunteering and/or mentoring. Our PRIME (Partnership Response In Manufacturing Education) initiative actively engages students, educators and industry to ultimately drive interest and awareness in manufacturing. PRIME has grown to 38 schools in 22 states and more than 140 PRIME students have received nearly $400,000 in cumulative scholarships. We want to continue to grow PRIME and its impact; to do so, we need more support. Volunteers and mentors from industry are always welcome!

Increasing awareness and engagement. Let your colleagues know about the SME Education Foundation and its great work. Encourage your family members to apply for a scholarship (applications are now being accepted for the 2017–18 school year). If you’re an SME member (in good standing for two years) who’s a parent and/or grandparent, I encourage you to take advantage of the SME Education Foundation’s Family Scholarships: one is awarded for $40,000 and three are awarded for $20,000 each, all payable over four years. I’ve had the opportunity to watch many of these students receive their scholarships, and the reaction never gets old. The stories they share and their excitement in receiving this much-needed money reminds me of why I’m so passionate about the Foundation, its work and overall impact.

If you’re looking for a cause to champion this holiday season (and beyond), you don’t have to look any further than the SME Education Foundation. You too can make an impact in manufacturing and strengthen its future workforce for many years to come.