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SME Education Foundation Funds Program at Arizona State University to Provide Local Industry with Skilled Manufacturing Engineer


September 09, 2004

DEARBORN, Mich. - The Education Foundation of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) has awarded $47,435 to Arizona State University (ASU), Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering Technology department, Mesa, Ariz., to help local industry fill entry level positions with immediately productive manufacturing engineers. The SME grant provides for a new "Curriculum Integration for Manufacturing Technology" program in a structured business called "The Manufacturing Enterprise Company," (MECO). Students will work on a product made by a local manufacturer from start to finish over four semesters and experience all of the demands and challenges faced in typical world-class engineering environments. They will organize, delegate and solve multifaceted manufacturing problems by synthesizing the knowledge gained in coursework.

Said Alvin Post, PhD, assistant professor, Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering Technology, Arizona State University, "Our graduating manufacturing engineers will have highly-developed competencies in manufacturing. We also believe this program will stimulate enthusiasm for careers in manufacturing among high school and community college students."

The SME Education Foundation (SME-EF) grants are part of a major effort to equip the manufacturing workforce with the knowledge and skills to be an effective and innovative force in global manufacturing. They are awarded to colleges and universities who effectively collaborate with business and industry to design programs based on industry-identified competency gaps. The ASU program effectively included partnerships with business and industry and addressed competencies including: project management, all forms of communication, product/process design, teamwork, manufacturing process and process control including issues particularly important to their local manufacturers -- hands-on experience, and problem-solving.

Since 1998, the SME Education Foundation has funded more than $7 million to 37 colleges and universities. For 2004, the grants totaled $411,971 and also included Alexandria Technical College, Alexandria, Minn., to support the Minnesota Center for Advanced Manufacturing Automation, and Farmingdale State University of New York, Farmingdale, N.Y., for the "Long Island Manufacturing Project, " to help meet the competency requirements for bio and nano manufacturing at 1200 to 1500 small-to-medium size manufacturing companies in Long Island, N.Y.

SME's Phoenix Chapter 67, one of the strongest chapters of SME, has long supported manufacturing technology programs at ASU with annual funding of $8,000-10,000 for scholarships and annual contributions supporting involvement in SME's annual WESTEC "Manufacturing Challenge," held in Los Angeles, Calif. ASU students have maintained a great record at this annual competition, taking 2nd place or higher in seven of the past 10 years, and winning the Grand Prize in 2002. Sherril West, president of the SME Education Foundation says, "We invite and encourage business industry and academic leaders to work together with us to secure a future workforce with well- developed competencies in manufacturing and all of its various interrelationships now required in the global marketplace. These grants act as a catalyst for manufacturing initiatives beyond just the funds provided by the SME Education Foundation."

Recipients of the SME Education Foundation's Manufacturing Education Plan (MEP) grants, Research Initiation Grants and Special Awards, share a common goal: to expand and improve manufacturing, engineering, science, and technology education. The Foundation is committed to equipping tomorrow's manufacturing workforce with the knowledge and skills to be an effective, efficient and innovative force in global manufacturing. These grants serve as catalysts to encourage collaboration between industry and educational institutions in communities and regions while stimulating the use of new and emerging manufacturing technology in innovative approaches to the development of manufacturing curricula. The collaborative grant-supported projects have produced significant advancements in manufacturing education.