Chicago Organizations partner with Wheeling High School.

Press Release Summary:

SME Education Foundation is taking a community-based approach to manufacturing education and creating strong partnerships between organizations, businesses, and exemplary schools. Wheeling High School of Wheeling, Ill. is 1 of 6 exemplary schools selected for first phase of new Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education program launched in fall 2011. A comprehensive mid-sized, suburban high school with a focus on STEM education, Wheeling High School has been grant-funded $26,000.

Original Press Release:

Chicago Organizations, Businesses Line Up to Partner with Tech-based Wheeling High School

The SME Education Foundation has selected Wheeling High School, Wheeling, Ill., as an exemplary school, one of six schools in six states where partnerships are fueling a comprehensive community-based approach to manufacturing education.

DEARBORN, Mich., WHEELING, Ill, - The SME Education Foundation is taking a community-based approach to manufacturing education and creating strong partnerships between organizations, businesses and exemplary schools. Wheeling High School, Wheeling, Ill., a U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School, is one of six exemplary schools selected for the first phase of a new Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education (PRIME) program launched in fall 2011.

Other PRIME exemplary schools include: Kettering Fairmont High School, Dayton, Ohio; Walker Career Center, Indianapolis, Ind.; Summit Technology Academy, Kansas City, Mo.; Hawthorne High School, Los Angeles, Calif., and Francis Tuttle Technology Center, Oklahoma City, Okla.

"PRIME is our response to industry's demand for technically skilled workers as they maintain and grow advanced manufacturing processes," says Bart A. Aslin, chief executive officer, SME Education Foundation." This comprehensive, community-based approach to manufacturing education allows for the more immediate and hands-on involvement of business and industry."

Wheeling High School has been grant-funded $26,000 by the SME Education Foundation which includes: $10,000 to update equipment, software, and/or professional development; $1,000 to support their involvement in technology-based competitions tied to organizations such as Skills USA and/or FIRST Robotics; $5,000 toward their Gateway Academy technology-based summer camp, and $10,000 to support scholarships.

PRIME builds on the SME Education Foundation's $5.2 million investment in STEM-based education. This effort targets three critical issues: transforming manufacturing education, changing public perception of manufacturing, and addressing the shortage of manufacturing and technical talent in the United States.

Wheeling High School is a comprehensive mid-sized, suburban high school with a focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education for its 1,800 students. Wheeling was selected based on their exemplary manufacturing curriculum, technology-based courses developed by Project Lead The Way (PLTW) which include Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM); skilled and dedicated instructors, engaged and active students, strong corporate or administrative support from the manufacturing community, and having SME member involvement, including SME local chapters.

Michael Geist, a Project Lead The Way (PLTW) instructor who teaches CIM at Wheeling had this to say about the SME Education Foundation PRIME partnership: "Wheeling High School is very proud to have been this year's PRIME site recipient. Our school places a very high value on our industrial partnerships as they have paved ways toward student internships, scholarships, and opportunities to network."

Wheeling High School's STEM-based approach has technology embedded throughout all student experiences including arts, languages and humanities alongside a focus on career certifications, college partnerships, and technology to prepare students for post-secondary opportunities. There are 15 computer labs, over 450 computers, laptop loaners, Smart Boards, media projectors in every classroom, and technology resources available throughout the building. The school extends this access to technology into students' homes with a desktop loaner program for needy families and the extensive use of online learning resources.

Designed in cooperation with industry partners, a new state-of-the-art prototyping fabrication lab includes the latest advanced manufacturing technology with a 3-D printer for rapid prototyping, HAAS CNC lathes and mill, CNC Plasma Cutter, CNC training stations, robotic work station, surface grinder and more. This new facility provides students interested in engineering, architecture, and manufacturing with hands-on design experience and a competitive edge for work or degree programs after high school.

Reaching young people at an early age is critical to advanced manufacturers. Wheeling High School offers the Gateway Academy, a summer day camp for 1st through 8th graders, boys and girls, which introduces them to drafting and graphic design and allows them to use real lab equipment in a team environment. Funded by the SME Education Foundation, nearly 4,200 students attended Gateway camps in 34 states in 2010.

The Gateway to Technology (GTT) program for sixth, seventh, and eighth graders focuses on showing, not telling, students how engineers use technology to solve everyday problems. GTT at Wheeling High School has three PLTW courses: Design and Modeling, Magic of Electrons and Automation and Robotics, which are taught throughout the school year and summer.

A major strength of the PRIME initiative is the connections it creates between schools, local manufacturing industry, and SME membership groups. Local SME chapter members are excited about mentoring future engineers and technologists.

Says Chairman Bob Iossi, SME Chapter 5, Chicagoland, "It has been a tremendous experience for us to work with Wheeling High School. You can feel the passion of educators that truly get it, starting with the instructors and their students, the department chair, their Principal, Dr. Lazaro Lopez and Jeff Jerdee, District Representative, for the Board of Education District 214. Dr. Lopez and his Industrial Team fought to keep the programs alive through these tough times and manufacturing downturn. When other people said "No," they said "Yes," and put their careers on the line."

The Wheeling High School PRIME partnership team will include a manufacturing business to facilitate mentoring, tours of their local businesses, and job shadowing. Students and their instructors will be provided access to a new website,, funded by the SME Education Foundation. The site provides links to advanced manufacturing companies and access to real-world professionals, their job descriptions and skill requirements.

About Community Partnerships:

Wheeling High School has created strong partnerships within the community which are critical to job creation. These include: Bill Stasek Chevrolet; CarQuest Automotive Parts - Wheeling; Chicago Automobile Trade Association; Crown Industrial Supply; Dakota K Automotive Repair; DynoMax, Inc.; Haas Factory Outlet of Chicago; Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Development; Iverson & Company; Knauz Motors; Littelfuse; National Tutoring Association; National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and Technology (NCSSSMST); Northrup Grumman; Northwestern University Office of STEM; Numerical Precision; NyproMold, Inc.; Rexam; S&S Automotive Suppliers; Sandvik; Society of American Military Engineers; Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) Chapter 5 Chicagoland; Swiss Precision Machining; Sullivan Pontiac, Buick & GMC; Tooling & Manufacturing Association, Waltz Brothers, Inc., and Village of Wheeling.

About Wheeling High School:

Wheeling High School, Wheeling, Ill., is a public, culturally diverse, four-year comprehensive high school with a STEM focus (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Established in 1964, the school is one of six schools in Township High District 214. Course offerings and content are grounded in relevance to the new economy and industries being served providing college credit bearing courses and entry level career certifications including information technology, engineering, architecture and advanced manufacturing. A network of industry professionals from a wide array of fields provides guidance and support. Visit

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, the SME Education Foundation has provided more than $31 million since 1980 in grants, scholarships and awards through its partnerships with corporations, organizations, foundations, and individual donors. Visit the SME Education Foundation at Also visit our award-winning website for young people at, and for information on advanced manufacturing careers.


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