Happy New Year Members and Future Members! This is Natalie Lowell reaching out to you on students and educators for 2017! I encourage you to engage this year in our critical mission to promote manufacturing technology and develop a skilled workforce. To get started, I wanted to share some thought-leadership with you from an interview from our member Dale Sharp.
A few months ago, I asked SME Member, Dale D. Sharpe III, to share his feedback and experiences with SME high school initiatives. Dale is an Assistant Director of Career & Technical Education at McKenzie Center for Innovation & Technology in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Natalie: Why is it important for high school students to have a better understanding of manufacturing?
Dale: In Indiana, manufacturing represents 12.4% of the existing workforce. We have long been recognized in manufacturing and students almost inevitably have family members involved in manufacturing at some level. Because of the longevity of manufacturing experience, students often hear stories of hot, dirty and dangerous jobs. Today’s manufacturing experience are far removed from that reality. Unless we connect students with the manufacturing experiences of today, they are likely to overlook one of the most important and progressive options for a career that is abundant in Indiana.
Natalie: What are some of the greatest opportunities in manufacturing today?
Dale: Manufacturing requires updated skills in technology. High school students understand and appreciate technology. We have taken students to numerous manufacturing settings that resonate with them because of the access to technology-based jobs. Also, most Indiana Manufacturers promote from within, offer continual training and re-training and are working to bring both job skill and college advancement opportunities into the workplace. Students can enter jobs after college or right out of high school and build careers with one employer or one manufacturing specialty that will carry them very efficiently through an upwardly mobile career path. We consistently host manufacturing recruiters into our high school that have very well-developed programs for students to work and learn in the same environment that have certifications and college credits attached as part of their work day. They can begin a great career and achieve college degrees for little or no cost and be well established in their field while others are still on campus accruing and paying college costs.
Natalie: What has your experience been with SME high school membership?
Dale: The PRIME Grant and SME connections gave us funding and courage to start to “tool” our building for classroom experiences that students will face in the manufacturing arena. SME also emboldens our teachers to step into their classroom with the knowledge that they have accurate information and manufacturing mentors that support their efforts. It also creates connections that help teachers modify existing curriculum and develop new classroom activities that they know are evident, valued and respected in the manufacturing environment. Today’s student is connected to the world in so many ways on a day by day basis. The classroom needs to look as real and legitimate as the ideas and locations that they see on-line and through other media access. SME connections help us create that experience in the classroom that connects and reinforces students interest in the manufacturing field and other STEM areas.
Natalie: Why would you recommend becoming an SME high school member to a fellow educator?
Dale: SME connections are confidence builders for teachers. When a teacher is connected, they build better programs and feel more comfortable when they connect with the “real world”. Well-developed relationships with people in the industry provide accessible and accurate information to instructors. Educators become much better planners and innovators as they move forward with new curriculum and equipment needs in their classrooms. They can explain their needs and have a more valuable voice in administrative decisions, because they have very informed advisers that are in the industry to guide them. The connections that develop also provide them with a never-ending supply of ideas, equipment recommendations, technology exposures and student opportunities for their program.
This is Natalie Lowell closing out. I leave you items below to discover and “Spreading the Word” to build our next generation talent. Thanks for reading, please send me email or comment on this blog as to how SME can assist you in your program at high school, college or university level.
“Spreading the Word”
- SME Press Release on High School Membership link to pdf
- Video Tutorial on SME High School Membership https://youtu.be/C0-gyNDFBpk
- SME Mentorship link to pdf
- SME Scholarship link to app
- SME STEM Premier video link
- Educator application link to pdf
- Student application online link to DocuSign