SME participated in one of the most anticipated high school and postsecondary events in the country — the annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky June 24-28. More than 6,500 career and technical education students converged at the Kentucky Exposition Center to compete in over 100 events showcasing their skills and knowledge in a myriad of trade, technical and leadership fields, e.g., health science, agriculture, information technology, public safety, and manufacturing.
For the fifth year, SME and Stratasys sponsored the Additive Manufacturing Competition at the national SkillsUSA finals, attracting – and in some cases introducing – students to the new, exciting, emerging technologies and tools applied in this market. One of the goals of this competition is to stimulate student learning of additive manufacturing and 3D-printing techniques while providing them with real-world, hands-on experience utilizing the technology.
This year, FANUC joined SME and Stratasys as a sponsor, providing equipment as well as technical and design challenge support.
The SkillsUSA Additive Manufacturing Competition has drawn more and more students over the years, growing from 13 teams when the program was introduced in 2015 to approximately 50 teams participating this year. Almost 100 high school and college students from across the country competed in the 2019 challenge that tested their basic understanding of additive manufacturing principles.
In addition to the design challenge, students took the Tooling U-SME’s Additive Manufacturing Fundamentals Certification exam to test their knowledge of additive manufacturing.
Each year, the SME Education Foundation supports this program by providing scholarships to the high school winners of the contest. And this year is no different; the Foundation awarded a total of $6,000 in scholarships to the top medal winners – $1,500 for each gold medalists, $1,000 for each silver medalists and $500 for each bronze medal winner.
The national SkillsUSA conference hosts the top 6,000+ high school and college students out of hundreds of thousands of contestants nationally to the weeklong championship event. More than 16,000 people — including students, teachers, and business partners — participate in activities at the SkillsUSA national conference.
Additive manufacturing/3D printing has experienced exponential growth over the past decade and opened the door for greater opportunities in the manufacturing industry. Although 3D printing has become mainstream and increasingly embedded in manufacturing operations, retaining a workforce capable of using this technology is a challenge. That’s why contests like the SkillsUSA Additive Manufacturing Competition are so important; these events expose the younger generation to a new space of design and manufacturing possibilities, inspiring them to seriously consider manufacturing as a career option and a field where they will spend their professional lives.
Allowing students to explore the extensive range of career pathways and build hands-on skills will not only open new doors for them, but it will broaden the pool of manufacturing talent for an industry in desperate need of a highly skilled workforce. And that’s where the SME Education Foundation Student Summits come in. These experiences inspire students to further explore manufacturing career pathways through student-centric programming that delivers hands-on challenges and competitions, technology demonstrations, and guided show floor tours.