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NASA's high school hardware program partners with manufacturing education program

May 15, 2017
HUNCH program and the SME Education Foundation’s PRIME program is working on expanding advanced manufacturing opportunities for students

Single Stowage Locker on the ISS with signatures of students and teachers who help fabricate the locker. (Source: HUNCH)

To help close the advanced manufacturing skills gap, NASA’s agency-wide HUNCH (High School Students United with NASA to Create Hardware) program and the SME Education Foundation’s PRIME (Partnership Response In Manufacturing Education) program are partnering to further expand the pipeline of skilled manufacturing talent in the United States. According to NASA, this collaboration will attract and introduce more high school students to career opportunities in the industry and prepare them to become the next generation workforce for jobs that are in high demand.

In a press release, SME points to predictions indicating 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will be available in the U.S. by 2025, but that a significant skills gap will result in 2 million of these jobs going unfilled.

"By combining our PRIME network with NASA’s HUNCH program and working together to further expand the number of schools in the combined network, we can provide more students with access to a STEM and manufacturing focused education using hands-on learning experiences," said Brian Glowiak, vice president of the SME Education Foundation. "Through this partnership we are motivating youth to consider careers in manufacturing and preparing them with the skillsets and knowledge to succeed."

PRIME connects regional manufacturers with high schools to establish or build manufacturing education programs that will grow the workforce in their communities. The SME Education Foundation works with schools to provide industry-driven training for teachers as well as curriculum, while also giving access to real-world manufacturing equipment and resources.

The HUNCH program provides high school students with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience producing hardware identified by NASA scientists, astronauts and engineers for training and deployment in the International Space Station (ISS). Since 2003, HUNCH students have made hundreds of products for NASA including single stowage lockers, cargo transfer bags, three-minute educational videos and experiments to fly on the ISS.

Through the HUNCH program, PRIME schools will have the opportunity to build hardware with NASA mentors, bringing a technology focus to even more high schools. Alternately, HUNCH schools will now be part of the PRIME network, having access to SME student memberships, mentoring programs, and technical resources.

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