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Student Summits

Nearly 900 High School Students Attended Student Summits in 2021

SOUTHTEC_2021_Large-Group-Shot-2.jpgOne of the core tenets in the Foundation’s mission to develop the next generation of talent is to inspire students to consider manufacturing as a career choice. Last year, nearly 900 students from 30 high schools in 12 U.S. states participated in Student Summits that took place at four SME events: RAPID + TCT, EASTEC, SOUTHTEC and WESTEC. In all, nine full days of Student Summits — made possible by a donation from the Arconic Foundation — took place during the SME events. 

In 2021, a new component was added to the Student Summit event series. Participating students now had the opportunity to attend pre-event virtual summits — created by the SME Education Foundation and Edge Factor — that prepared them for the live events. Students learned about various careers in manufacturing by listening to keynote videos and participating in an online scavenger hunt at the four virtual events preceding the four live events.

SOUTHTEC_2021_Small-Group-Shot_Banners.JPGParticipating students had a positive reaction to the virtual summits. “I learned of the different types of manufacturing,” said one of the hundreds of participants, adding, “Every message in the keynote video inspired me.” “I was inspired that so many people work and manufacture even the littlest things in our life, and that manufacturing is changing the world,” said another participant.

A hands-on competition at each Student Summit involved several challenges related to the design and optimization of an autonomous vehicle (AV). Students worked in five-person teams as they tackled each challenge and drove their finished AVs along 8-foot marked lanes on the ground beside each team’s table. At the end of the allotted time, team members presented their work to volunteer judges. Each day of the summits, judges chose a winning team.

“[The RAPID + TCT Student Summit] had a huge impact on our students, and the conversation it ignited in our classrooms is exactly how we need to draw them into this industry,” said a manufacturing engineering teacher at Wheeling High School in Illinois. “I love how you broke the day up, giving [students] opportunities to engage in problem-solving challenges as well as time to explore the neat stuff out on the show floor. Students marveled at the amazing rapid prototyping models, materials being printed, and the various careers that these new technologies were being used in.”

At each 2021 Student Summit event, technology demonstrations and guided show-floor tours provided by 148 student-friendly exhibitors showcased the high-tech nature of modern manufacturing while effectively fighting the misperception that manufacturing is dull and dirty. Last year also saw the addition of a brand-new feature, student-friendly partner tables — where preselected companies can engage with the next generation of students while students learn about participating companies and the industries they support.

Inspiring the next generation

The Student Summit Event Series introduces high school students to the manufacturing industry through an immersive high-level experience. Students discover new technology while exploring STEM-based manufacturing career pathways.