New Berlin, N.Y., Nov. 9, 2023 – Since the beginning of the 2022-23 academic school year, the SME Education Foundation has provided students at Unadilla Valley High School in New Berlin, N.Y. with access to new manufacturing and engineering focused educational resources through the SME PRIME program. The Foundation operates as the philanthropic arm of SME, the national non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of manufacturing technology and fostering manufacturing talent and capabilities in North America.
Students, teachers, parents and community members joined with the SME PRIME program funders – including Corning Incorporated, Walking Ridge Development and SME – to celebrate the launch of the program on Tuesday, November 7. The event showcased the new SME PRIME program including classroom projects, equipment, curriculum and involved participants.
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 the engagement in manufacturing-focused extracurricular activities for students and teachers as well as students’ 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.
"The SME PRIME schools are a model for manufacturing education and career preparation, implemented by many schools across the nation,” said SME Education Foundation Vice President Rob Luce. “Our staff of highly qualified education program managers coordinates this effort to ensure the industry's talent pipeline is strong. This is a critical step in maintaining North America's industrial base."
Funding for SME PRIME at Unadilla Valley High School was provided by regional manufacturer Corning Incorporated’s Foundation, Walking Ridge Development and SME. Walking Ridge Development is a local organization that works toward sustained business and community prosperity.
Corning Incorporated, one of the world’s leading innovators in materials science including glass, ceramics, and optical physics and developer of transformational products, is a large employer in the region and has invested in its future workforce through SME PRIME. The curriculum plan developed to guide Unadilla Valley High Schools’ SME PRIME program of instruction is tailored to meet the needs of regional manufacturing. Corning Inc. assisted in the design of the plan with input related to their workforce needs in the region.
“As education and workforce development are focus areas for the Foundation, it is gratifying to see an SME PRIME program launched locally near the Corning Life Sciences Oneonta Plant,” said Andrea Lynch, president, Corning Incorporated Foundation. “The advanced manufacturing curriculum helps to prepare students for apprenticeships, post-graduation education or work at local companies like Corning Incorporated.”
“Manufacturing is the backbone of the economy of a community, and it is important that we support it in our schools,” said Will Rexroat, technology teacher at Unadilla Valley High School. “With the help of SME PRIME, I was able to start my journey, making connections to local businesses, and build a program with higher meaning and impact in the community.”
The SME PRIME program at Unadilla Valley High School provides students with hands-on training on modern, industry relevant equipment positioning students to earn industry recognized credentials in high-demand skill sets including Metrology and Quality, CAD/CAM, Additive Manufacturing, and Mechatronics and Robotics.“Unadilla Valley Central School District is very proud of our fantastic partnership with SME Education Foundation and Corning Incorporated for the SME PRIME program opportunity we are fortunate to provide for the students of our community,” said Superintendent of Unadilla Valley Central School District, Brenton Taylor. “With an advanced manufacturing program in place, students in Unadilla Valley will be workforce-ready at graduation.”