Bay City, Mich., Dec. 5, 2023 – Since the beginning of the 2022-2023 academic year, the SME Education Foundation has made it possible for students at Bay City Western High School to have access to new manufacturing education resources through its SME PRIME® program. The Foundation operates as the philanthropic arm of SME, the national nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of manufacturing technology and fostering manufacturing and engineering talent and capabilities in the United States.
Students, teachers, community members, and representatives of the Foundation were joined by Michigan Representative Matthew Bierlein, to celebrate the SME PRIME program on Friday, December 1 at the school. The event showcased the new SME PRIME program including classroom projects, equipment, and involved participants.
Of the program participants who graduated from Bay City Western in 2023, all (100%) of the graduating students plan to pursue careers in manufacturing. The majority plan to enter an apprenticeship or manufacturing related training. The remainder plan to pursue post-secondary education at a four-year college or university in a manufacturing related program.
“Preparing our future graduates for in-demand fields is something we constantly evaluate, and we know the demand for jobs in manufacturing and engineering will be a long-term need,” said Superintendent Dr. Stephen Bigelow. "This partnership with the SME Education Foundation provides students the necessary training and resources for a successful trades career, along with greater access to job providers in our region.”
SME PRIME® partners private industry with academia to build custom manufacturing and engineering programs in high schools across the country, providing equipment, curriculum, teacher training, student scholarships, 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.
“When I was in high school, the only programs and support to pursue a manufacturing career were for students who were not planning to attend a four-year college,” said Michigan State Representative Matthew Bierlein. “It was a mistake at the time, it was the late 90s when you either went to technical school or college. Because of this, we realize that we lost a number of technical jobs. Programs like SME PRIME are getting Michigan back in the direction of filling those crucial manufacturing jobs.”
SME PRIME provides a robust learning experience responding to local workforce demands. 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 will 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 SME PRIME curriculum at Bay City Western High School provides a program of manufacturing and engineering education with hands-on training in high demand skill sets including metrology and quality, CAD/CAM, additive manufacturing, and mechatronics and robotics. The participating students have unique opportunities to learn about industry relevant, state-of-the-art equipment and prepare for promising careers. The average salary for the state’s manufacturing workers is over $85,000 annually, according to the U.S Census Bureau.
“SME PRIME program allows students like me to face different challenges that we could face in the work force. It gives us opportunities to use equipment, like 3D printers, that we normally would not have the chance to use. I enjoy using this program because we are given very challenging designs that we have to create and working with two different programs,” said SME PRIME student Kyra Smith, Junior. “SME PRIME has given me a baseline knowledge and has set me on a path to pursue a career in either mechanical or chemical engineering.”
The Foundation worked with the Michigan Manufacturers association (MMA) to encourage area manufacturer engagement with the school and 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 limited talent pipeline and misperceptions about work environments and opportunities for young people.Funding for Bay City Western High School’s SME PRIME program is part of a public private partnership between the SME Education Foundation and the State of Michigan, which has doubled to 33 the number of Michigan schools participating in SME PRIME®.