Westfield Vocational Technical High School Wins PRIME Funding

The Manufacturing Technology Department at Westfield Vocational Technical High School, Westfield, Mass., has been named a model school by the SME Education Foundation through its PRIME (Partnership Response in Manufacturing) program. Westfield is one of nine exemplary schools in eight states where funding is being directed to support manufacturing education.

The PRIME designation comes with a three-year commitment by the SME Education Foundation to provide assistance in creating and fostering strong partnerships with the local manufacturing base to provide job shadows, mentoring and internships. In addition, as a PRIME school, Westfield Vocational Technical High School will receive funds totaling $35,000 for three years to support post-secondary scholarships, equipment upgrades, continuing education for instructors and a STEM-based camp for middle school students.

PRIME, a community-based approach to manufacturing education, is part of a commitment by the SME Education Foundation to address the shortage of manufacturing and technical talent in the United States. Launched in 2011, with the selection of six schools in six different states, model schools funded by PRIME offer STEM-based curriculum (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and prepare young people for highly skilled jobs with lucrative potential. One of the richest sources of employment and economic growth will be jobs requiring a solid STEM education.

“The high schools we’ve selected as PRIME exemplary schools are collaborating, networking, and creating partnerships with local manufacturers and community colleges,” says Bart A. Aslin, CEO, SME Education Foundation. “Our intent is to change outdated perceptions of manufacturing and the careers it offers."

The Manufacturing Technology Department at Westfield Vo-Tech will use a majority of the PRIME funding to upgrade its precision manufacturing equipment which is to include a portion of the cost for training for a new Robotic Training Arm. The school’s state-of-the-art Manufacturing Technology Department has over eighty pieces of equipment and includes a Precision Tool Room Lab, a million dollar Advanced Manufacturing Lab and a state-of-the-art Computer Aided Design (CAD) Lab.  

Manufacturing Technology Department Chair, Clement “Clem” Fucci, says, “Our school recently celebrated its 100th Anniversary and our students and our Manufacturing Instructors, Gary Nadeau, Ron Nadeau and Lyle Washington are extremely proud of what we have been able to accomplish. Our small class size offers individualized instruction and attention and a Co-operative Education program offers students on-the-job training while still in school."

The course of study is often referred to as a basic engineering course and offers a variety of career opportunities for both females and males. Students can enter a well-paying manufacturing job in industry, a Community College, a Technical College, or pursue a four-year degree in Mechanical or Manufacturing Engineering. An articulation agreement with the State of Massachusetts allows students to pursue two-year or four-year degrees at Springfield Technical Community College or Holyoke Community College.  

By midterm of their freshman year, studies rotate weekly, with students in the classroom for academics in the first week and in a manufacturing environment for hands-on training in the second week to apply what they’ve learned. When they become a senior, they are ready to move into a technical manufacturing job while continuing to pursue their studies.

Career fairs and field trips provide opportunities for a first-hand look at the many levels of career opportunities in advanced manufacturing. Westfield Vo-Tech will be offering scholarships to students who are pursuing an associates degree in mechanical technologies as well as an engineering degree.

In addition to Westfield Vocational Technical High School, Westfield, Mass., PRIME sites for 2013 include: Alabama: Calera High School, Calera, Ala., California: Esperanza High School, Anaheim, Calif.; Petaluma High School, Petaluma, Calif.; Indiana: McKenzie Center for Innovation and Technology, Indianapolis, Ind.; Iowa: Cedar Falls High School, Cedar Falls, Iowa; Michigan: Jackson Area Career Center, Jackson, Mich.; Ohio: Centerville High School, Dayton, Ohio, and Wisconsin: Bradley Technical High School, Milwaukee, Wis.

To-date, the SME Education Foundation has provided funding of more than $285,000 through PRIME to model high schools to help manufacturing and its advanced technologies drive the economic vitality of local communities. This initiative builds on a five-year, $5.2 million investment in their STEM based manufacturing education workforce development programs.

For more information, visit: www.smeef.org/programs/detail/prime

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