Howmet Grant to Grow STEM Curriculum for Muskegon Area Students
The Howmet Aerospace Foundation and Greater Muskegon Economic Development (GMED) are pleased to announce that the Foundation has awarded a $200,000 grant to support new and expanded STEM education for Muskegon area students. Funds will be used to establish The Howmet Center for Sustainable Science and Technology, which will allow Muskegon Community College and Muskegon Area Intermediate School District students to gain greater exposure and access to STEM education using food processing and food science. Programming will include in-class lectures and lab coursework at the new Food, Agriculture, Research, Manufacturing (FARM) food processing business accelerator on the campus of Muskegon Community College. These offerings will integrate with the MSU/MCC food processing degree and certificate programs (https://www.muskegoncc.edu/degrees-and-certificates/areas-of-study/food-processing-technology/). K-12 programs will be held at several West Michigan schools beginning this spring and fall, 2022.
“Our region’s businesses, especially our manufacturers, continue to struggle to find workers with STEM-related skills, and graduating students who have been exposed to STEM is the way to address this issue long-term,” said GMED Director of Business Development Morgan Carroll. “We need to be creative about how we engage students with STEM, so they understand that these jobs not only pay well, they are interesting and rewarding as well.”
The concept is to build students’ STEM skills by introducing them to the chemistry, engineering and math associated with food processing. Chemistry is the science behind the taste, texture and consistency of food. Engineering and technology are the basis of designing and building food processing equipment and sustainable food production systems. Math is an essential part of food formulas, scaling recipes, and setting up and programming food production lines. The goal is to build a pipeline of STEM talent by sparking students’ interest in how and why things work using food, which creates opportunities for them to move into all types of STEM-related jobs and industries from there.
Amy Heisser, Director of Human Resources for Howmet Aerospace, said this is just the latest example of how the company’s Whitehall operations has been supporting community partnerships for more than seven decades. “This grant continues our long tradition of supporting the community while also investing in the next generation of skilled workers. As a company that relies on the technical expertise of employees, Howmet Aerospace understands the importance of providing students access to STEM education opportunities. Muskegon County is also of particular importance to us because our engines business unit is headquartered here. This is why the company, through the Howmet Aerospace Foundation, supports community-based programs like the FARM accelerator that play a critical role in educating our future workforce.”
The FARM food processing business accelerator is owned by the Community Foundation for Muskegon County and managed by the Michigan State University Product Center.