The SME Education Foundation announced its 47th SME PRIME School at Starkweather Academy, part of Plymouth-Canton Community Schools in Plymouth, Michigan towards the end of 2019. Livonia, Michigan-based Roush Industries Inc. was a key investor in the collaboration along with seven other Wayne County investors.
Roush boasts an impressive breadth of services to customers in several markets: aerospace, transportation, alternative fuels and defense among them. Roush offers customers value through enterprise-wide solutions in engineering, testing and development, prototyping and manufacturing.
Roush is also very notable for its performance and motorsports operations, including Roush Fenway Racing, which boasts seven championships in NASCAR’s top three divisions and has established itself as a dominant force in the sport.
Like many involved in advanced manufacturing, the Roush organization is very familiar with the current – and growing – skills gap.
SME PRIME schools directly address that manufacturing and engineering talent shortage by partnering with investors like Roush to inform and provide modern equipment, tailored curriculum and hands-on training to high schools across the country. The national program provides students with practical experience, knowledge and skills using state-of-the-art technology and equipment.
Talent Acquisition Lead for Roush Industries Adrienne Leonard believes that initiatives like SME PRIME can make a difference. “We invested in SME PRIME primarily to prepare machinists, but we see opportunities for mechanics, welders; fabricators. Young people just don’t know what opportunities are out there.”
Ron Poland is vice president of manufacturing for Roush Industries. “I’m a mechanical engineer by training. I grew up on a farm – where you learn to work with your hands. You learn how to do every trade on the farm! Today, though, there are less and less young people doing things with their hands.”
“But as long as there are things that have to be made, and put together,” Poland noted, “we’ll have a need for skilled and semi-skilled people – even in the most automated facilities in the world.”
Speaking at the launch event for the Plymouth-Canton SME PRIME School, Wayne County, Michigan, Executive Warren Evans highlighted the collaboration between manufacturers like Roush and SME PRIME schools. “What’s important about this program is the curriculum is designed with input from employers, which helps ensure we’re connecting students with viable career pathways as the manufacturing industry evolves.”