DEARBORN, MI - The SME Education Foundation has been honored with the 2009 Project Lead The Way Patriot Award. The award is presented annually to an organization which has contributed altruistically and patriotically to the mission of Project Lead The Way Inc. and the cause of engineering education in the United States.

In accepting the award, Bart Aslin, director of the SME Education Foundation said, “This award is truly an honor-because as we all know, altruism is the golden rule of ethics, and when you tie the golden rule to remaining true to a higher standard, we take great pride in knowing we have been able to change the culture of education and contribute to preserving the future of manufacturing in this country. Our board of directors, staff, Laurie Maxson, and our parent organization, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) are pleased to know we have made a difference.”

The SME Education Foundation’s youth program initiative includes Gateway Camps, Gateway Academies and the sMe (summer Manufacturing experience) Institute. Each of the programs offer demanding Project Lead The Way pre-engineering curriculum including Design and Modeling, the Magic of Electronics, the Science of Technology, Automation and Robotics, and Flight and Space. Laurie Maxson directed the Foundation’s youth programs and was responsible for spearheading its expansion now offered at 237 Gateway Academies in 36 states.

In the United States today, companies continue to cut their workforce and move work to overseas markets where labor is not only cheaper, but offers an incredible pool of talented, technology proficient workers. According to the 2006 U.S. National Center for Education Statistics, “There is a disturbing gap in math and science skills of U.S. students relative to those of key competitors. The relative scores of U.S. students compared to students from a number of industrialized and developing countries show that the United States lags in both math and science against students in both advanced economies such as Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom, and developing countries such as those in Hungary and Poland.”

Said Aslin, “Today, scientists and engineers are working on space-backed solar energy, advanced car batteries, renewable energy storage, carbon capture and storage and next generation biofuels, all areas presenting new job opportunities.” In a major effort to assure U.S. technological competitiveness, the SME Education Foundation has positioned youth programs as their major initiative in advancing manufacturing education. The ability to create wealth, produce goods and secure a quality of life will be assured by those who have had Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) education as the bedrock of their careers.

Project Lead The Way is a national 501c3, not-for-profit educational program that helps give middle and high school students the rigorous ground-level education they need to develop strong backgrounds in science and engineering. For more information,