Fresh off his visit to the Southern Michigan Center for Science and Industry on Thursday, Oct. 16, Gov. Rick Snyder said pushing career technical education is a top priority for his second term.
Students at the newly opened center showed Snyder some of the skills they’ve learned in their first month at the advanced manufacturing and pre-engineering education and training facility.
The governor couldn’t contain his excitement when students McKendry Evans, 17, and Jared Kaczor, 16, got their hovercraft off the ground in a demonstration.
Evans and Kaczor said it took about a month to build the hovercraft, which consisted of PVC pipes, two household fans and a modified leaf blower.
“That hovercraft was just awesome, they were really fired up to show that off and it’s great to see that excitement,” Snyder said. “This is my favorite kind of stuff to get out and do because this is all about our future.
“There aren’t enough people with skilled trades training, and it’s important to show our young people that there is a second track instead of just a college education.”
Snyder said he never wants to discourage anyone from a college education, but there needs to be two clear paths allowing people to discover what they love to do.
SMCSI, located in a former M&S Manufacturing building on the east side of Hudson in Lenawee County, opened its doors to students for the first time in September.
Program Manager Dan Rogers guided Snyder on the tour and said the school is experiencing levels of success that he didn’t expect to see so quickly.
“It’s a really great feeling to be able to show something off that you’re so proud of to someone like Governor Snyder,” Rogers said. “McKendry (Evans) helped me market this program to other students over the summer, and he’s been such a great success story because he’s almost like a student teacher.”
Rogers said the school’s goal is to create work-ready graduates and work-ready adults with skills required by manufacturers.
SMCSI is a joint venture between Hudson Area Schools, businesses and manufacturers, including Jackson’s Alro Steel, which focuses on science, technology, engineering and math-based careers.
“It’s time to replicate this even more across the state and engage parents and students earlier on in the process,” Snyder said. “Companies are going to want to come here, thanks to places like this.”
Snyder recently signed legislation making sure students are informed about how technical education courses can fit into their required curriculum.
Under the legislation, the Department of Education will provide information about available career tech programs in Michigan and potential career opportunities.
Hudson Area Schools is leasing the facility and has budgeted more than $300,000 for the center, which is aided by grants, a Lenawee County career and technical education millage and business and manufacturing partners.
Rogers said juniors and seniors from Hillsdale and Lenawee counties, and all high school students from Hudson, can add the SMCSI to their curriculum for three hours a day.
“It’s just great to see this type of innovation at a young age,” Snyder said.