Gene Haas Foundation and SME Education Foundation Align Funding for Machinist Training

Time waits for no one, and with an ongoing critical need for hiring skilled workers in advanced manufacturing, the Gene Haas Foundation, Oxnard, Calif., today announced another $150,000 in grant-funding to the SME Education Foundation to align machinist training with the needs of job seekers and employers in targeted local communities. This newest gift from the philanthropic arm of Haas Automation, Inc. brings their grant-funding support to the SME Education Foundation to nearly $700,000 in less than five years.

Gene Haas Foundation representative, Peter Zierhut says, “Technical skills learned through high quality, hands-on training add value to the individual, the company, state and country. The demand for skilled workers today is strong and it will continue to increase. Educating young people on the fundamentals of high-technology manufacturing is an imperative.”

The innovative approach and collaborative efforts of the two non-profits is working. Funding from the Gene Haas Foundation and other partnering organizations has allowed the SME Education Foundation to direct its grant funding to targeted areas of the country where the unemployment rate is at 8 to 12%.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “Despite the projected decline in unemployment, job opportunities for machinists should continue to be good, as employers value the wide-ranging skills of these workers. Many young people with the necessary educational and personal qualifications needed to become machinists prefer to attend college or may not wish to enter production operations. Therefore, the number of workers learning to be machinists is expected to be less than the number of job openings arising each year from the need to replace experienced machinists who retire or transfer to other occupations.”

The Gene Haas Foundation provides funding for their Gene Haas Machining Technology Scholarship which is specifically designed for students pursuing careers in machining technology or a closely related field of study. It targets the adult learner or individuals that are returning to school to learn a new skill set.

Bart A. Aslin, chief executive officer, SME Education Foundation says, “There is an urgent need and so the time is now. We have created a growing number of strong partnerships between organizations, businesses and exemplary schools to bring a comprehensive approach to manufacturing education. Our collaborative efforts with organizations like the Gene Haas Foundation in communities throughout the U.S. reflect our future funding initiatives.”

In Tennessee, with an unemployment rate of 9.7%, the SME Education Foundation has funded the integration of Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) courses at 10 high schools and provided students with access to SME Chapters and eight colleges and universities. In parallel, the Gene Haas Foundation has provided 19 students with Haas Machining Technology Scholarships.

Craig, a student at Tennessee Tech whose comments reflect the feelings of many scholarship recipients, says getting the scholarship reduced his financial burden enough to allow him to focus on continuing to improve his machining skills and buy high quality tools every serious machinist needs.

In metro Detroit, with an unemployment rate of 11.2%, and statisticians reporting even higher percentages to include those who no longer are seeking work, last year, the Gene Haas Foundation $50,000 grant to the SME Education Foundation was directed to the Gene Haas Machining Technology Scholarship at Focus: HOPE, a Detroit-based non-profit, where its Machinist Training Institute (MTI), offers students state-licensed courses in precision machining and metalworking.

Students can earn a machinist certificate and pursue careers as: automotive technicians, machine programmers, tool and die machinists, CNC programmers, computer machine technicians and utility and set-up operators. The SME Education Foundation has been able to award the overwhelming majority of their scholarship funding from the Gene Haas Foundation to organizations such as Focus: HOPE.

Since 1998, the SME Education Foundation has provided over $5.3 million dollars in financial aid through its various scholarship programs. The Foundation awards scholarships to graduating high school seniors, current undergraduates and masters or doctoral degree students pursuing degrees in manufacturing and related fields at two-year and four-year colleges.

To find out more information about SME Education Foundation scholarships and how to apply, visit:

Information on the Gene Haas Machining Technology Scholarship is available at:

The SME Education Foundation Online Scholarship Application will re-open mid-November for the 2012/2013 school year.

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