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PRIME Stories

Georgia High Schools Benefit From Implementation of SME PRIME

Manufacturing and engineering students at Georgia’s Bryan County High School (BCHS) and Monroe High School (MHS) are reaping the benefits of new, advanced manufacturing technology and training opportunities that have been provided by the SME Education Foundation’s SME PRIME® (Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education) initiative since the Georgia Department of Education partnered with the Foundation in early 2023.

Georgia High School StudentsBCHS and MHS are two of 12 Georgia secondary schools that were awarded an SME PRIME program, making them instrumental in the effort to build a qualified pipeline of talent for Georgia’s growing manufacturing industry.

MHS, located about an hour east of Atlanta, has a number of local industry partners, including Takeda, Mechanical Contractors Association of Georgia, First Environmental Nationwide, Holder Construction, Inglett & Stubbs and Cobb Electric Membership Cooperative (EMC). In addition, Rivian, an electric truck manufacturer, is building a plant in the area.

BCHS, located about 35 miles west of Savannah, also has a number of industry partners nearby, including Daniel Defense, ORAFOL Americas, C&H Precision Weapons, Spreetail, Thomas & Hutton Engineering Services, Thomas & Hutton, Georgia Ports Authority and ManiTech. Plus, Hyundai is in the process of building an electric vehicle plant nearby.

In 2023, MHS began interacting with local industries as part of a program the school called “Industry of the Week.” “We started having companies come in and talk to the classes,” says Charles Jones, engineering and manufacturing teacher at MHS. “Those partnerships are true partnerships; those companies are always in the building.”

Three StudentsAs for BCHS, the school has regular meetings with an advisory council made up of career, technical and agricultural education (CTAE) representatives from local industries. “They all come together and look at all these different aspects of what we have going on in school, and they give us feedback,” says Kelly Hiatt, engineering teacher at BCHS.

Both MHS and BCHS received SME PRIME grants for $375,000. As part of the grants, both schools received student subscriptions for Tooling U-SME courses that align to their curriculum plans; Edge Factor videos plus vendor- and equipment-related curriculum; support for industry-recognized credentials; professional development for all equipment; support for scholarships; and sustainability funding for future SME PRIME program needs.

They also received a variety of manufacturing equipment. At MHS, new equipment includes a Fanuc Robot, Universal Collaborative Robot, VEX classroom robotic kits, Stratasys 3D printer, Snap-on Precision Measuring Instruments kit, Festo Mechanical Drives Learning System, two Festo MecLab Mechatronics Training Systems and four Festo AC/DC Training Systems. Regarding the new equipment, Jones says, “ have students building things in CAD and printing things on the Stratasys printer, and I think they love the idea of taking something that was in their minds and turning it into something that they can actually touch.”

At BCHS, new equipment includes a Stratasys 3D printer, Snap-on Precision Measuring Instruments kit, four Festo AC/DC Training Systems, Festo Mechanical Drives Learning System, two Festo MecLab Mechatronics Training Systems, two Universal Collaborative Robots, and VEX classroom robotics supplies, including a competition floor. According to Hiatt, when her students were asked about the value SME PRIME has brought to their curriculum, they mentioned the “higher-tech equipment,” adding that “SME PRIME has taught us how to come together and work together in real life.”

Both Jones and Hiatt are excited about the positive change SME PRIME is bringing to their students and to local industries.

“We have a lot of manufacturing companies surrounding the Monroe area, and I think SME PRIME is a great benefit to the community,” says Jones.

Hiatt, referring to SME PRIME’s effect on her students, says, “I’ve been given many opportunities in my life, but this one is going to change their lives.”