Shape Corp., a global tier-one automotive and industrial component supplier founded in 1974 in west Michigan, is one of a growing list of companies partnering with the SME Education Foundation to collaborate through the SME PRIME (Partnership Response In Manufacturing Education) initiative, to develop and launch an advanced manufacturing education program. The Shape Corp. and Grand Haven High School in Grand Haven, Michigan, partnership began in 2017.
At the announcement event celebrating the SME PRIME partnership, Mark White, president of Shape Corp. said “Shape has a long history of engagement with students, and we have partnered with numerous organizations to attract these young people to potential career opportunities in manufacturing. We are very excited about partnering with the SME Education Foundation and look forward to growing a great manufacturing education program in Grand Haven.”
With more than 2,000 students and 125 staff members, Grand Haven High School is home to a wide variety of courses and includes curriculum designed to meet and adapt to the needs of 21st century education. The school’s academic emphasis focuses on preparing students for college as well as the increasingly competitive and technologically advanced workplace.
The program being built at Grand Haven High School includes multiple pathways, each made possible through input, engagement and investment from Shape Corp.: Metrology and quality; mechatronics, robotics and additive manufacturing; and robotic welding and composites.
Catherine Persoon, Shape Corp. talent development manager, says “The relationships and mentorships we’re developing through this partnership are invaluable. Although we’d like to help students find a pathway to Shape, our vision is to have a broader, positive impact on our community.”
Persoon notes the importance of engaging young people; to introduce them to the roles and responsibilities of engineers, technicians and operators — and to the rich and varied opportunities available in advanced manufacturing.
As early as eighth grade, students participate in STEM summer camps: Fun, engaging and specially designed to instruct as well as inspire. Participation has doubled in two years, with students most recently taking part in the construction of underwater aquatic vehicles that compete in speed challenges. Jeremy Case, a key instructor from Grand Haven High School, directs the camp with support from Shape Corp. professionals from the quality, manufacturing and engineering areas of the organization.
The camp, says Catherine Persoon, is a critical first step “to inspire and attract students to explore STEM topics.”