Education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is changing rapidly. For example, one innovation in secondary-level STEM education is the development of STEM high schools embedded in workplaces. In addition, traditional high schools are offering cutting-edge robotics and engineering classes. Three auto manufacturers—Ford, General Motors, and Honda—are partnering with the SME Education Foundation to bring robotics instruction to secondary schools in the US. Read on to learn more about these exciting STEM education initiatives.
About the SME Education Foundation
The SME Education Foundation is part of SME, formerly known as the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. Dedicated to advancing the field of manufacturing engineering, SME sponsors training courses, trade shows, and certificate programs, among other initiatives. In 1979, SME established its Education Foundation (SMEEF) to support schools in providing instruction in manufacturing engineering.
Today SMEEF focuses on three areas in its promotion of manufacturing engineering education. The organization works to develop a pipeline of manufacturing engineering programming from the elementary grades to the graduate school level, awards student scholarships and grants to encourage educational pursuits in manufacturing engineering, and supports manufacturing engineering curriculum development by providing gifts and financial assistance to post-secondary institutions.
SME PRIME Schools
In 2011, SMEEF established SME PRIME Schools. PRIME stands for Partnership Response In Manufacturing Education, and SME PRIME Schools focus on providing students with cutting-edge experiences in manufacturing engineering. The organization accomplishes this with the support of more than 250 industry partners who work with school districts around the country. Programming provided by SME PRIME Schools and their partners include mentoring, job shadowing, apprenticeships, and co-ops.
To date, SMEEF estimates that more than 50,000 students have participated in its programs, which exist in 47 communities in 22 states. Currently there are eight SME PRIME Schools in Ohio; seven in Michigan; six in California; three in Indiana; two each in Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin; and one each in Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. SMEEF is actively recruiting more schools to participate.
Although the particulars differ in each SME PRIME School, students are able to earn credentials and gain invaluable practical experience in a variety of manufacturing engineering careers. These careers include CNC machining, welding, mechatronics, industrial maintenance, and metrology. Students in all SME PRIME Schools have access to advanced technology and equipment, and enjoy active learning opportunities.
Ford and Romeo High School
In Romeo, Michigan, Ford has partnered with Romeo High School to create an SME PRIME School. Here, students can study advanced manufacturing and robotics by taking courses in robotics, mechatronics, drafting, mechanical design, and machine tooling. Additionally, Ford’s nearby Michigan Proving Ground provides opportunities for students at Romeo High School to interact with manufacturing engineers and other professionals at Ford.
Some of the highlights at this school include such machining equipment as a stair precision measuring toolbox, mills, lathes, band saws, and CNC machines. As for robotics, Romeo High School boasts both a MicroScribe and two robotic arms that have programmable logic controllers. Students in the program have landed internships during their high school years that have led to jobs after graduation.
General Motors and Fraser High School
General Motors and five local companies have partnered with Fraser High School in Fraser, Michigan, to qualify it as an SME PRIME School. Programs of study at Fraser High School include the engineering, manufacturing, and industrial technology track, with focus areas in electrical and electronics equipment, manufacturing technology, mechanical drafting, and small engine technology. Students can also focus on woodworking or on welding, brazing, and soldering. All courses in this track include hands-on experience as part of the curriculum.
Of particular note at Fraser High School are the new industrial-grade CNC machinery, welding equipment, robotics equipment, and CAD software. The school is also planning to build additional facilities to accommodate classes and workspace related to the automobile, aerospace, automation, and defense industries. Additionally, Fraser High students are able to visit with nearby General Motors manufacturing professionals.
Honda and Anna High School
In Anna, Ohio, Honda has played a role in making Anna High School an SME PRIME School. With an engine plant nearby, Honda recognized the opportunity to prepare local youth for the increasingly automated workplaces of the future. Industrial technology courses at Anna High School introduce students to concepts and fields such as aeronautics, research and development, electronics, engineering, blueprint reading, CAD, manufacturing, metrology, and mechatronics.
At Anna High School, robotics is taught in the main school building, not in an annex, and to accommodate the machinery, a new addition is being constructed. The machinery and equipment includes a robotic arm. Students at Anna High School learn in a team-based atmosphere to design and manufacture projects of their own choosing as well as complete budgeting and marketing plans for these projects. Advanced students also have the opportunity to teach and mentor their peers.