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Press Release

Innovation Central High School Students Embrace Manufacturing Skills in SME PRIME Schools Program

For b-roll of the SME PRIME school program, visit this link: SME PRIME School Video Gallery

U.S. manufacturing industry needs to fill 2.5 million jobs by 2030, upskill existing workers

(GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan, March 24, 2023) — Eighty-five students at Innovation Central High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan, have had access to new manufacturing education opportunities from the start of the 2022-23 school year through the SME Education Foundation, the philanthropic arm of SME, a 90-year-old non-profit association committed to advancing manufacturing technology and developing a skilled workforce.

Students, teachers and parents will join representatives of SME and the local manufacturing community to kick off the SME PRIME program on Friday, March 24th beginning at 1 p.m. The event will reveal additional details about the new PRIME program, including educational content, new equipment and involved participants.

SME PRIME® partners private industry with academia to build custom manufacturing and engineering programs in high schools across the country, providing equipment, curriculum, professional development for educators, scholarships for students, and funding for extra-curricular activities and program sustainability. SME PRIME is tailored to meet the needs of local manufacturers and is aligned with over 30 industry-recognized certifications. To date, SME PRIME is in 81 schools across 22 states, serving 8,000 students. As of 2022, 91% of PRIME seniors pursue manufacturing post-high-school—either through a manufacturing-related degree or by directly entering the workforce.

Rob Luce, Vice President, SME Education Foundation

“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. “They include a curriculum plan of three foundational pathways teaching Metrology and Quality, CAD/CAM, and additive manufacturing or 3D printing, as well as one elective pathway that is informed by local industry needs.”

Luce said that the Foundation is focused on helping secondary education students start careers in manufacturing and fill an estimated 2.5 million jobs that will be available by 2030.

The Foundation worked with the Michigan Manufacturers Association, 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.

“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 Michigan students.”

Innovation-Central_HS.jpgThe foundation’s SME PRIME Outcomes Report indicates that as of 2022, 91% of PRIME seniors pursue manufacturing post-high school—either through a manufacturing-related degree or by directly entering the workforce.

“The SME PRIME program prepares our students for local, skilled, manufacturing employment with unlimited prospects for advancement with many companies that are willing to nurture growth in individuals in their workforce,” said Elisabeth Giem, lead STEM instructor at Innovation Central High School. “The program provides student memberships in the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and also opportunities for scholarships for further education. We are very pleased that SME PRIME has chosen GRPS and the Academy of STEM to help Inspire, Prepare, and Support our students in exploring and gaining skills in the advanced manufacturing field.”

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

About the SME Education Foundation
As the philanthropic arm of SME, the SME Education Foundation inspires, prepares, and supports the next generation of manufacturing and engineering talent. Established in 1979, the Foundation works with public and private partners to expose youth to modern manufacturing technologies, train students on relevant manufacturing concepts and processes, and subsidize their pursuit of a post-secondary education in the manufacturing or engineering field. All Foundation programming seeks to increase engagement with historically underrepresented populations to help diversify the manufacturing industry.

Visit the SME Education Foundation at Follow @mfgeducation on Twitter or at