Coronado Engineering earns ‘PRIME’ designation

       The manufacturing aspect of Coronado High's Industrial Technology and Engineering Department got a boost this week with the announcement of a three-year funding grant from a national education foundation.
       According to department chair Bryce McLean, the recognition will mean $15,000 in the first year, with slightly declining stipends (exact numbers not yet known) over the following two years.
       “The grant will help me buy equipment so students can have some hands-on experience with manufacturing,” McLean said. Priorities are in the areas of welding and machining, “so we can be up and running and can handle large numbers of students.”
       The money will come as a result of Coronado being one of 11 schools in the country newly designated as a PRIME (Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education) model school as “part of a commitment by the SME Education Foundation (SME-EF) to address the shortage of manufacturing and technical talent in the United States,” a press release states. “Model schools funded by PRIME offer a STEM-based curriculum (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) that helps prepare young people for highly skilled, good-paying jobs in demand by today's manufacturers [and most also] offer the Project Lead The Way (PLTW) STEM program.”
       In Coronado's favor was that it has been a PLTW school since 1999. The focus on PLTW has been preparing students who will seek four-year degrees in engineering fields. This year McLean's department added a manufacturing fabrication course that's focused on preparing students for two-year degrees that will qualify them for employment as technicians, he pointed out.
       The applicaton to SME-EF had to be prepared by someone in the industry, McLean said. He credited Russell Krause, vice president of Vertec Tool Inc., about two miles north, who has also worked with Coronado on its robotics program and the curriculum for the fabrication course.
       As part of its designation process, SME-EF had sent a representative to Coronado to “look at our program, our curricula and our shops,” McLean said. “I think we were chosen as a school with potential and sustainability.”
       He also sought to clarify a possible misconception that manufacturing only occurs in other countries now. “Manufacturing is not dead in this country; it's just changed,” McLean said. “Instead of making 100,000 widgets, we now might make 100 very complex applications for satellites.”

Westside Pioneer/press release