Manufacturers Celebrate Launch of New Manufacturing Educational Opportunities at Grand Rapids’ Innovation Central High School

LANSING (Mar. 30, 2023) — The Michigan Manufacturers Association (MMA) joined together last week with students, teachers and the SME Education Foundation to celebrate the launch of new manufacturing educational opportunities through SME PRIME® at Innovation Central High School in Grand Rapids.

The Foundation’s Partnership Response In Manufacturing Education (PRIME) initiative partners private industry with academia to build custom manufacturing and engineering programs in high schools across the country, providing equipment, curriculum, professional development for educators, scholarships for students and funding for extra-curricular activities and program sustainability. SME PRIME is tailored to meet the needs of local manufacturers and is aligned with over 30 industry-recognized certifications.

MMA has worked closely with the SME Education Foundation on engagement with area manufacturers to guide the unique, research-informed SME PRIME Curriculum Plan developed for Innovation Central High School.

Currently impacting 85 of the school’s nearly 700 students, Innovation Central’s PRIME program supports the three core standard pathways of CAD/CAM, additive manufacturing and metrology/quality, and additionally includes the machining and fabrication pathway.

“Innovation Central’s students are getting valuable hands-on experience with milling and turning, CNC programming, robotics, 3D printing and lots more,” said Bill Rayl, MMA Executive Director of Workforce Solutions. “With great instructors like Mrs. Giem, Mr. Larson and Mr. Dykstra, enthusiastic support from the school’s administration and the strong manufacturing community in Grand Rapids, MMA looks forward to great things from Innovation Central and its PRIME students.”

A 2022 state appropriation of $6 million provided funding to develop SME PRIME at Innovation Central High School and 15 additional schools in the state. This funding doubled the number of SME PRIME in Michigan schools to 33. To date, SME PRIME is in 81 schools across 22 states, serving 8,000 students. As of 2022, 91 percent of SME PRIME seniors pursue manufacturing post-high-school — either through a manufacturing-related degree or by directly entering the workforce.

“This significant expansion of the SME PRIME school initiative benefits students and Michigan manufacturers that need qualified, prepared employees,” said Mike Johnston, MMA Executive Vice President of Government Affairs and Workforce Development. “Michigan manufacturers need ambitious, creative and prepared young people ready to find their bright futures in advanced manufacturing. We are proud to advocate for our manufacturing partners and Michigan students.”

Manufacturers need people with the right skills and MMA works in partnership with numerous organizations to help provide training and educational opportunities as our industry competes in the global economy. More skilled workers are needed as manufacturing discovers, develops and implements new advanced technologies. The gap between supply and demand of talented manufacturing employees is a primary barrier to industry competitiveness.

SME PRIME is a key weapon for the state of Michigan in developing the talented employees demanded by the advanced manufacturing sector. It is a clear fact that the state that wins the talent development battle will win the economic war as states compete for technologically transformational manufacturing capital investment.

Learn more about the MMA and SME PRIME partnership at or to schedule a call with MMA’s Mike Johnston or Bill Rayl, contact MMA’s Delaney McKinley at 517-303-3541 or

Pictures: Instructor Mike Larson works with two of Innovation Central’s high school seniors in the SME PRIME® program. (click to download full resolution)

Video: Innovation Central High School & PRIME (Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education) Event

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Delaney McKinleyDelaney McKinley
Executive Vice President of Operations
Call 517-487-8530