DEARBORN, MI-The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) Education Foundation has launched a national fund-raising campaign to secure funding for programs that will address perceptions of manufacturing as a career choice and advance manufacturing education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The “We Advance Manufacturing Education” initiative will be launched in the fall 2009.

“Today, the general perception of manufacturing is equated to being unskilled, repetitive labor,” says Bart Aslin, director, SME Education Foundation. “We think our next generation is being short-changed because of its lack of awareness of the unlimited career opportunities manufacturing offers.”

In order to motivate students and illuminate career possibilities, the SME Education Foundation, in its partnerships with like-minded organizations, corporations, foundations, and individual donors, will expand its youth program initiatives where it has already successfully impacted middle and high school students through its Gateway Camp, Gateway Academy and sMe Institute.

The curriculum offers a solid framework for advanced education by offering accelerated science, technology, engineering and mathematics and providing students with hands-on opportunities to learn. Since 2006, the foundation has invested more than $3 million of its own funds toward its summer youth programs. In 2010, the foundation will infuse more than $650,000 toward these programs as well as continuing to offer financial support through scholarships and awards.

The reality of modern manufacturing-according to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)-is that the right number of workers with the right skill sets is sadly deficient, and young people are generally uninformed of their career potential. Industry-recognized educational pathways are needed to build a pipeline of highly skilled scientists, engineers, technologists and analytical mathematicians.

Today, nearly 30 percent of workers with science and engineering degrees are age 50 and older. As a result, our future technical workforce is at risk and U.S. manufacturing as we know it is being lost to overseas markets in Japan, China and Korea.

Youth programs, scholarships and awards need the support of donations to protect the foundation’s ability to showcase and introduce young people to life’s career possibilities.

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