According to a recent SME report, the tagline “Made in America” will soon die without increasing investment in what it calls STEM-based education — science, technology, engineering and mathematics. That's because skilled labor shortages continue to constrain U.S. manufacturing.
One investor in the future is the The Andersen Corporate Foundation, Bayport, Minn., a supporter of organizations offering intellectual and social opportunities, primarily for young people, K-12. It recently funded $25,000 to the SME Education Foundation for the Gateway Academy, a national STEM program for 6th to 8th graders. The Andersen gift will cover the cost of Gateway Academies in Minnesota, New Jersey, and Western Wisconsin, where Andersen has manufacturing facilities and employees.
Educators at the Gateway Academy aren't just teachers and instructors — they're lifelong learners trained to inspire and motivate young minds, says the report. In 2010, the SME Education Foundation held 237 Gateway Academies and reached over 4,800 students in 34 states.
Also funding the program are companies including American Electric Power, Emerson, Haworth, Kern Family Foundation, and Kennametal. Thanks to these supporters, the SME Education Foundation grant funded $815,000 to Project Lead The Way this year. Says SME Education Foundation Director Bart A. Aslin, “We are seeing increasing numbers of educators, community leaders, and the media becoming more involved in promoting STEM education, but there is a lot of work to be done yet. We need to reach young people at an early age and ensure they are guided, not intimidated, by taking more challenging learning courses.”