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Press Release

SME Education Foundation Announces New Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Scholarships

The SME Education Foundation today announced a new $2 million diversity, equity and inclusion scholarship to increase awards to underrepresented students, beginning in 2021. This scholarship, named after the late SME Education Foundation Board President Irving P. McPhail, is part of a broader $4 million effort to increase awards to underrepresented students in STEM education. The Foundation will raise an additional $2 million over the next five years.Irving P McPhail Drone Image Student Showcase.JPG

The SME Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization with a 40-year history of inspiring, preparing and supporting young people in their pursuit of manufacturing, engineering and STEM-related career opportunities, has awarded more than $8 million to nearly 3,500 deserving students since 2005 through its scholarship programs. The McPhail Scholarship and concurrent $2 million Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Scholarship initiative are intended to significantly expand postsecondary education opportunities to a broader community of students.

“Diversity, equity and inclusion are central to the Foundation’s mission,” said Rob Luce, vice president of the SME Education Foundation. “We’re focused on helping young people explore rewarding careers in manufacturing and engineering — and we want all young people to be aware of those opportunities.”

The new scholarship fund is named in honor of the late Irving P. McPhail, EdD, who served the Foundation on its board of directors for 10 years, was its 2020 president and passed away unexpectedly in October 2020. McPhail dedicated his life to the pursuit of higher education, and was a champion for the cause of diversity, equity and inclusion in all areas of society. Up until his untimely passing, he most recently served as president of Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The scholarship initiative is one element of a much broader Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion strategy for the SME Education Foundation. A central tenet of a new five-year plan, the Foundation will fully integrate diversity, equity and inclusion across all its programs and operations.

SME PRIME: Targeting Title I schools

Beginning in 2021, the SME Education Foundation’s signature program, SME PRIME, will target Title I schools across the country for future growth, in order to better support disadvantaged students in high poverty communities to increase the impact of the program.

The SME PRIME program directly addresses the manufacturing and engineering talent shortage by partnering with industry to provide modern equipment, tailored curriculum and hands-on training to high schools across the country. SME PRIME students learn about manufacturing and engineering technology and processes through an industry-informed curriculum tailored to meet the needs of the local manufacturing and engineering community. The program, expanding annually, is currently in 60 schools across 22 states.

Board Governance

As part of its ongoing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiative, the Foundation is reaffirming its commitment to ensuring that it receives guidance and perspective from the widest variety of experiences, opinions, backgrounds and cultures. As of January 1, half of the Foundation board members identify either as minority or female. The Foundation will continue to make diversity a priority as it seeks out and assesses potential candidates for future board selection.

“The SME Education Foundation recognizes both its responsibility and its unique ability to ensure equity and inclusion,” said Frank W. Ervin III, group vice president, government affairs, Piston Group and SME Education Foundation board member. “I’m proud to be part of the Foundation’s commitment to provide opportunity and support for all young people.”