Refueling the American Dream: Moving Beyond Covid-19

When reflecting on how our lives have been turned upside down by the Corona virus and subsequent unemployment crises, it’s a good time to reflect on solutions that will enable the U.S. to recover stronger than ever. Principal among lessons learned is our nation’s overdependence on other countries for manufactured goods and strategic raw materials, especially in the health and safety areas. Consensus is emerging that economic recovery will require much more vigorous support for our manufacturing and construction industries, not only to fight future pandemics and natural disasters, but also to rebuild and develop the infrastructure that the U.S. will need to revive her ailing economy now in recession.

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Crisis in the Supply Chain

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) recently reported that 17,000 US defense suppliers have left the defense industry. Are we surprised?

For thirty years, many of us have been shouting from the rooftops that America's policy towards manufacturing was slowly creating a "clear and present danger". The CSIS report is just the latest to highlight the disturbing outcomes of local, state, and federal policies largely responsible for the loss of five million manufacturing jobs between 1990-2014! I would argue that it is difficult for policymakers to champion industrial programs when they do not appreciate the technical skills required to manage defense products. The tragic statistics cited above show that public policy managers do not fully understand the manufacturing process.

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Why College Developmental Education Is Failing America

Despite educational reform efforts to raise standards, develop better tests and improve teaching, most conclude that the majority of high school graduates are still not ready for college. That said, the Nation is generally proud of its community college system that provides among other things a second chance for many. For those who left high school without the skills to succeed in college, or whose skills have atrophied over time, colleges provide remedial courses to help them catch up and eventually qualify for college credit courses.

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American Education Must Restore the Marriage of Hand and Mind

Every once in a while, a film comes along that reminds Americans about what we can do to improve our Nation, including our educational system. Such a film is Something the Lord Made, which recounts the true story about a relationship between an ambitious white surgeon, Dr. Alfred Blaylock, and an African-American carpenter, Vivien Thomas, who became his lab assistant and eventual partner in developing an operation that saved "blue babies" from chronic circulatory failure. Their shunt procedure, and the surgical instruments created by Thomas that made it possible, revolutionized cardiovascular surgery and brought great glory to Johns Hopkins University.

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Apprenticeship and Pre-Apprentice

SMI is a matchmaker between schools and manufacturers. Within our region model we are out hunting for matches between the best companies and students who are serious about a career in manufacturing. We are actively making presentations to students about career opportunities and hand picking those who are ready for your shop floor. We lead industry's voice to schools on what is working and what isn't. The result is finding the right people and the right resources to build the next generation worker through a process that starts with student internship leading to pre-apprenticeships and finally targeted apprenticeships that lead to a craftsperson. We work with regional providers to make this process happen! Give us a little time and we can clarify any concerns and show you how this can fit within your existing hectic schedule.


Now is the time to do a little bit of good and maybe find a great employee! Every Spring, companies have an opportunity to partner with schools and provide students with brief experience in local companies. SMI has placed over 400 students in internships changing students' lives and providing the next generation manager or programmer to the company.

The process is simple - we work with local schools and identify the student, and we provide workers compensation insurance. In many cases it is the first step in an employee/employer relationship. Students are drawn from robotics, machine shop, automotive and wood shop programs to gain exposure of the manufacturing environment and discover mentors.

For more information about Internships, contact us at 818-298-022 or

VEX Robotics

SMI has been a leader in finding new methods of marketing manufacturing careers to students. We believe robotics is a communication bridge to both students and parents in looking at manufacturing careers. SMI has played a critical role in bringing VEX robotics programs and leagues to California schools. In 2006, SMI wrote and managed a California Community College grant to build a scalable robotics program. To this date, VEX has almost 1700 teams in over 650 schools throughout California. To support student competitions, SMI purchased two mobile competition arenas that are used throughout the state.

Project Lead the Way

Similar to VEX Robotics, SMI was instrumental in bringing Project Lead the Way (PLTW) STEM curriculum to California schools through grants from the California Community Colleges. 20 years later, PLTW is in over 1200 California Schools! It provides a pathway from student (PreK-12) to engineering and manufacturing careers. Today, SMI continues to work with PLTW by supporting the Chevron Challenge, a STEM initiative and competition between regional PLTW high school programs.

SMI Manufacturing Challenge

Originally established by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) over 30 years ago, SMI began partnering with SME in 2000 and eventually became the sponsor of the competition. The Manufacturing Challenge is a creative collegiate level competition where the students choose their own project and then design, manufacture and document the projects for display and evaluation. These projects may be student club projects, class projects, senior projects or funded projects. Beginning in 2016, SMI added a high school competition using parts that are manufactured in accordance with NIMS (National Institute for Metalworking Skills) blueprints with their own set of rules to compete. Schools from around the country and Mexico have participated in this unique event.