The SME Education Foundation has expanded and enhanced its award-winning Manufacturing is Cool website using pop culture to encourage young people to consider careers in manufacturing engineering.
DEARBORN, Mich., June 7, 2010 — American actor and humorist, Will Rogers (1879-1935) said, "A man only learns in two ways, one by reading and the other by association with smarter people." And so, the SME Education Foundation  has polished up its award-winning Manufacturing is Cool  website with the entertainment value of pop culture, and the integrity of highly respected resources by smart people, to introduce curious and creative young people to the exciting world of modern manufacturing and the high-paying careers it offers.
Today, however, the general lack of understanding about what a career in manufacturing really involves, how it forms the world in which we live, and why it is relevant has made it difficult to convince kids, parents and teachers that as a career, it's a smart choice. Throughout history, manufacturing has been the backbone of any strong nation. And so why is manufacturing relevant as an industry, and why should we encourage young people to consider it as a career? Because, without a strong and vibrant manufacturing base, the U.S. economy will continue to weaken over time. At the moment we're well on our way and there is an urgent need to turn it around.
SME Education Foundation Director, Bart A. Aslin says, "People have forgotten that manufacturing is the backbone of the U.S. economy. Technological advancements have changed the face of manufacturing. Unfortunately, the perception of what manufacturing is has not. To counter that perception, we are working with major industry, associations and our partners, and fueling the content of the website to educate people about what today's advanced manufacturing  really involves and the myriad of exciting, high paying career opportunities that exist today."
The Manufacturing is Cool website celebrates creative thinkers — students, parents and their teachers, who are willing to look at the world and our global community in a new way. Unlike many education-based sites, each of the items on the Manufacturing is Cool website drills down and expands information on a variety of required engineering disciplines — challenging the students to become more involved in the basic requirements of engineering programs, STEM education in math, science, engineering and technology.
The site's landing page — featuring the top of a kid's desk, opens with an invitation to "Be an Original Thinker." Click on one of the books, "What's Cool, What's New," and you're presented with options for Fun Activities, K-12 STEM resources, Manufacturing (such as Careers in Fluid Power  or (How Everyday Things are Made ), the Video Vault  including a visit to John Deere or Cool Things Being Made: Wind Farms , or and Games such as Star Child , a Learning Center for Young Astronomers.
There are also links offering personal career profiles by manufacturing professionals, science and technology-based resources for teachers, and videos outlining career opportunities produced by major manufacturers such as Briggs & Stratton, Caterpillar, Harley-Davidson, Kodak, Mazda, Northrup Grumman, Oshkosh, and others.
Interested in electronics? Look on the kid's desk for the I-Pod and click to visit "Distracting Diversions" for a behind the scenes visit and a 411 on everything from MP3 players, how DVDs and CDs  are made, book publishing, video games and even theme park attractions. Each of these makes learning fun while detailing the technical expertise used in the development of systems and products.
At one time, a lifetime job with benefits provided an enviable life for millions of people. Our new economy has changed this and so has manufacturing, but for the good. Technological advances evident in emerging technologies and advanced manufacturing have now taken a pre-eminent place in an economy that is reinventing itself. Creative and curious young people need a STEM-based science, technology, engineering and math education to succeed.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employers will be seeking 17,000 industrial and manufacturing engineers, 14,000 mechanical engineers, 14,000 engineering technicians, and 273,000 metal and plastic production workers every year until 2012. These numbers indicate that young people need to learn more about these highly-skilled jobs and how necessary math and science are for a secure future. A visit to Manufacturing is Cool begins the journey.
About the SME Education Foundation:The SME Education Foundation is committed to inspiring, supporting and preparing the next generation of manufacturing engineers and technologists in the advancement of manufacturing education. Created by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers in 1979, and celebrating its 30th Anniversary , the SME Education Foundation has provided more than $29 million since 1980 in grants, scholarships and awards through its partnerships with corporations, organizations, foundations, and individual donors. Visit the SME Education Foundation at www.smeef.org , a new website www.CareerMe.org  that supports advanced manufacturing careers, and our award-winning website for young people, www.manufacturingiscool.com .