SME Education Foundation Awards SME Chicago Chapter 5 "Outstanding Education Partner of the Year"

SME Chicago Chapter 5, the largest membership group of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, has been awarded the 2011 Outstanding Education Partner of the Year Award by the SME Education Foundation. It is the first time the Foundation has presented their award to a SME Chapter.

This savvy professional manufacturing group, 530 strong, includes engineers, educators, business owners, and community and organization leaders who, committed to the future of manufacturing and tired of hearing complaints about the lack of jobs and deadly unemployment statistics, are successfully directing their efforts to partnering and supporting aspiring engineers pursuing advanced manufacturing education at local colleges and universities.

“SME Chapter 5 personifies the word “partner,” says Bart A. Aslin, chief executive officer, SME Education Foundation. ‘Their track record, energy and commitment to change perceptions about manufacturing, transform manufacturing education and support workforce development issues are on target and critical to our funded programs. We were pleased to acknowledge their commitment and success.”

Chapter Leaders are working with local high schools and colleges to improve student involvement in vocational/industrial machine shops, internships with local industry, and getting schools that eliminated these programs to reconsider, bringing them back to meet the needs of industry partners and to keep manufacturing in Chicagoland area.

Bob Iossi, vice president, Friction Bonding, Beloit, Ill., and chair, SME Chicago Chapter 5, said, “Manufacturing is here to stay and we have to coach and back-end young people who are our future workforce, future engineers. Our efforts are all about taking back manufacturing. Looking for skilled workers? Partner up with high schools, colleges and universities! What do you need, electrical, mechanical, industrial or manufacturing engineers? Call us, we can help you! The connection between industry and SME makes partnering for education the right thing to do.”

SME and its chapters work with local schools to implement industrial and manufacturing programs, specifically machine shop programs, to insure success by providing consulting, speakers, corporate sponsorship, funded projects and equipment, and real connections to industry experts for speakers and hand-on expertise volunteered by SME members and the SME Chapter 5 Board.

In 2010-11, the SME Chapter group decided to visit five local high schools and two technical centers where machine shop and metalworking programs are offered to coach and offer their support to high school students and their instructors. The gratifying end-result was Chicago’s Wheeling High School winning the local award for the “Best Overall Industrial Machine Shop Program” in the Chicago area.

Another successful partnership was at East Leyton High School where their support resulted in the school receiving the “Best High School Machine Shop Award” for the Chicagoland Metropolitan Area. In 2011-12, SME Chapter 5 will expand their efforts to ten high schools and four colleges, including two community colleges.

The SME Education Foundation, building on its $5.2 million investment in STEM education, or those in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields, is transforming manufacturing education by taking a community-based approach through partnerships with schools, businesses and organizations. Launched this fall in six states, PRIME, (Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education) will heavily involve SME Chapters.

Selected schools offer exemplary manufacturing curriculum with technology-based courses including Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) developed by Project Lead The Way (PLTW); skilled and dedicated instructors; engaged and active students; have strong corporate and administrative support from the manufacturing community, and are supported by the involvement of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) including SME local chapters.

A major strength of the PRIME initiative is the connection it creates between schools, local manufacturing industry and SME membership groups. In a suburb of Chicago, Wheeling High School was selected as an exemplary school and its partnership team includes manufacturing businesses to facilitate mentoring, tours, job shadowing and internships. SME Chicago Chapter 5 members, working with students and their instructors, Principal, Dr. Lazaro Lopez and Jeff Jerdee, district representative, for the Board of Education District 214, made this more successful last school year.

As the program expands, SME Chapters will be a critical element in transforming manufacturing education in this community-based, partnership approach that supports workforce development. The Chicago SME Chapter is already working with chapters across the country to reinforce relationships with programs funded by the SME Education Foundation including the Gateway Academy offered in 34 states; and high schools offering Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) course at more than 400 Project Lead the Way (PLTW) high schools.

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