Skip to content

Press Release

Students at Southfield High School for the Arts and Technology Gain Skills for Manufacturing Careers in SME PRIME Program

Southfield, Mich., Nov. 20, 2023 - Since the beginning of the 2022-2023 academic year, the SME Education Foundation has made it possible for students at Southfield High School for the Arts and Technology 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 talent and capabilities in North America.

Students, teachers, community members, Michigan Speaker of the House of Representatives Joe Tate, Michigan House Representative Jason Hoskins, and Jen Swift, regional director for U.S. Senator Gary Peters, joined representatives of the Foundation Board of Directors including President Frank Ervin, Vice President Erica Powell Bell and member Art McClennan to celebrate the SME PRIME® program on Friday, November 17 at the school. The event showcased the new program including classroom projects, equipment and involved participants.

Over the past year, more than half of participating students have earned industry recognized credentials (IRCs) that are attractive to local manufacturers. The average salary for the state’s manufacturing workers is over $85,000 annually, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

"No matter who you are, where you come from, what community you’re in, it’s important to have the tools to prepare you for your career and that is what the SME PRIME program is ensuring,” said Michigan House Speaker, the Honorable Joe Tate. “It’s important to support manufacturing talent and the next generation that will be future industry leaders.”

sme-prime-southfield.jpgOf the program participants who graduated in 2023, more than one-third plan to pursue careers in manufacturing, the majority of whom plan to enter post-secondary education in a manufacturing-related program at a two- or four-year college.

“I extend heartfelt gratitude to the SME Education Foundation for forging a transformative partnership with Southfield High School for the Arts and Technology. This collaboration not only underscores our commitment to providing our scholars with opportunities that prepare them after their matriculation through Southfield Public Schools but also highlights the innovative strides we're taking in advanced manufacturing education,” said Dr. Jennifer Green, superintendent, Southfield Public Schools. “Through SME PRIME, students at Southfield A&T will delve into distinct manufacturing pathways, opening doors to promising futures. We're excited about the possibilities this partnership brings and are thankful for SME's generous provision of resources, ensuring the success of our program for our dedicated scholars.”

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. 

SME PRIME provides a robust learning experience in response 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 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 SME PRIME program’s curriculum at Southfield High School for the Arts and Technology provides a manufacturing education and hands-on training in high demand skill sets including metrology and quality, CAD/CAM, additive manufacturing, and mechatronics and robotics. SME PRIME provides a unique opportunity for the racially and ethnically diverse students at Southfield High School for the Arts and Technology to learn on state-of-the-art equipment. Students of color are historically underrepresented in the fields of manufacturing and engineering.

“I’m excited about participating in SME PRIME because I’ve always had an interest in STEM and engineering. There aren’t many women in STEM and there also aren’t very many Black women in STEM. When I get to where I want to be in my career, I want to be an advocate for women in STEM and help educate people on what STEM is and how it works so we can get more women in STEM,” said Southfield High School for the Arts and Technology student and SME PRIME participant Naimah Amusan, Class of 2026. 

“I have been a part of the robotics team for three years. It has been a very inspirational and great experience working with my team members. Receiving this new equipment from SME PRIME opens opportunities for me to learn more about machines and how they are used to affect our daily lives,” said Southfield High School for the Arts and Technology student and SME PRIME participant Fallougueye, Class of 2024. “It pushes me to improve and heighten my skills, which I will use for my future occupation, either in mechanical or electrical engineering. This opportunity has opened my eyes to what is out there for my future.”

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 a limited talent pipeline and misperceptions about work environments and opportunities for young people.