Skip to content

Press Release

East Jackson High School Students Learn Skills for Manufacturing Careers in SME PRIME Program


East Jackson, Mich. Oct. 27, 2023 - Since the beginning of the 2022-23 academic year, the SME Education Foundation has made it possible for students at East Jackson Secondary School in Michigan to have access to new manufacturing education resources through the SME Education Foundation. The Foundation operates as the philanthropic arm of SME, the national nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of manufacturing technology and fostering manufacturing talent and capabilities in North America.

Students, teachers, community members and Michigan House Representative Kathy Schmaltz joined representatives of the Foundation to celebrate the SME PRIME program on Friday, October 27th at the school. The event showcased the new PRIME program including classroom projects, equipment and involved participants.

Since the start of the program in East Jackson, 96% of participating students have been awarded industry recognized credentials (IRCs). Of the 7 students who graduated in 2023, 4 (57%) are pursuing manufacturing either through a trade or apprenticeship training or attending a four-year college or university in a manufacturing related program.

Informed by private industry, SME PRIME (Partnership Response In Manufacturing Education) builds custom manufacturing and engineering programs in high schools across the country, providing equipment, curriculum, and professional development. SME PRIME supports engagement in manufacturing-focused extracurricular activities for students and teachers as well as student applications for scholarship funding through the SME Education Foundation.

SME PRIME provides a robust learning experience that aligns with over 30 industry-recognized certifications. Currently, there are nearly 500,000 U.S. manufacturing positions unfilled. That shortage will grow to 2.5 million unfilled jobs by 2030. SME PRIME addresses this critical shortage by providing schools with resources for instruction that meets the needs of local manufacturers. To date, SME PRIME is in 93 schools across 23 states, serving 9,000 students. Most importantly, 91% of SME PRIME seniors pursue manufacturing post-graduation.

“Coordinated by our staff of highly qualified education program managers, SME PRIME schools are a model; a unique approach to manufacturing education and career preparation implemented by scores of schools across the nation,” said SME Education Foundation Vice President Rob Luce. “The SME PRIME program bolsters the industry’s talent pipeline to ensure North America’s industrial base remains strong.”


The curriculum at the SME PRIME program at East Jackson Secondary School provides a manufacturing education and hands-on training in high-demand skills sets including Metrology & Quality, CAD/CAM, Additive Manufacturing and Mechatronics and Robotics. Some of the equipment and supplies that are part of the SME PRIME program at East Jackson Secondary School include a Stratasys 3D Printer, a Universal Robotic Arm, and an Axiom Iconic CNC Router. The students have a unique opportunity to learn about this state-of-the-art equipment in what is considered an economically disadvantaged community. "At East Jackson Secondary School, we take great pride in preparing our students for the future, whether that be vocational or the college route,” said Principal Joel Cook. “With the help of the Prime SME program we are greatly enhancing our students' options and producing quality manufacturing and engineering talent in Jackson County."

The Foundation worked with the Michigan Manufacturers Association (MMA) to encourage area manufacturer engagement with the school and to solicit regional manufacturer input to guide the unique, research-informed curriculum plan developed for the school. The MMA, which represents traditional and advanced manufacturing enterprises across the state, has been a partner in developing Michigan SME PRIME schools and is critically important in supporting efforts by an industry facing a limited talent pipeline and misperceptions about work environments and opportunities for young people.

Funding East Jackson Secondary School’s SME PRIME program is part of a $6 million appropriation by the state of Michigan in the School Aid Fund Budget (PA 48 of 2021), which was crafted with bipartisan support from the Michigan Legislature. The award doubled to 33 the number of schools participating in the unique manufacturer/educator partnership-driven SME PRIME initiative.