Created by SME in 1979, the SME Education Foundation has provided more than $33 million since 1980 in grants, scholarships and awards in the U.S. and Canada and supported student outreach programs through its partnerships with corporations, foundations, organizations and individual donors.
The Foundation takes a three-pronged approach in its mission to help create a manufacturing education pathway that allows young people to compete in a 21st century global economy.
- Create entry ways for young people to learn about career opportunities in the manufacturing sector by investing in youth programs that begin in elementary school and continue through technical and graduate-level study.
- Provide students with the opportunity to earn certifications and degrees in advanced manufacturing and engineering by administering and awarding over 50 different scholarships and grants.
- Invest in the development of industry-driven curricula through direct financial support as well as in-kind gifts to colleges and universities.
The SME Education Foundation was created in response to a need identified by the business community. In the years after World War II, the country experienced a surge in demand for people with the technical skill to work with the new technologies developed during the war, such as advances in auto design and communications. Faced with this requirement, major corporations quickly zeroed in on a serious problem, the lack of degreed engineers graduating from the nation’s community colleges and universities with knowledge about the total manufacturing environment.
In the late 1970s, a meeting was held in Washington D.C. that included members of SME, colleges and universities, manufacturing managers and government officials to discuss their major concerns, which included:
- What specific knowledge did the nation’s manufacturers require of their engineers and technologists?
- Could the colleges and universities develop manufacturing-related courses?
- What would this endeavor cost and how could all of the interested parties help?
The SME Education Foundation was founded soon afterward in 1979. SME pledged to underwrite the operation of the SME Education Foundation and arranged for all monies contributed by corporations and individuals to be used for course development, research and scholarship grants.