By Jonathan Katz The Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation (SME-EF), Dearborn, Mich., recently awarded to nine North American colleges and universities $1.1 million in grants that target specific competency gaps in new employees cited by the manufacturing industry. Receiving the grants were Georgian College of Applied Arts & Technology, Barrie, Ont., $239,000; The University of Michigan-Dearborn, Dearborn, Mich., $230,501; Partnership for Regional Innovation in Manufacturing Education (PRIME) Coalition, Pa., $500,000; San Jose State University, San Jose, $70,000; and Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos, Tex., $87,024. "We are extremely proud of this year's recipients," says Raymond Adams, president of SME-EF. "They clearly target the necessary competency gaps; demonstrate a clear and measurable impact on their local manufacturing industry; and often involve collaborative efforts between community colleges, universities, local governments, and industry. The University of Michigan-Dearborn will use its grant to create three new laboratories for a new manufacturing engineering program, develop two new courses, and implement outreach programs for high-school students. "Our school is very active in manufacturing education," says Elsayed A. Orady, professor and coordinator of the Manufacturing Engineering Program at The University of Michigan-Dearborn. "We were the first school in Michigan and the second in the United States to have a manufacturing systems engineering program at the master's level and one of the few that have an automotive engineering program at the master's level." PRIME, an association of five southwestern Pennsylvania colleges that offers industry-focused education with seven manufacturing-degree programs, also received a $2,248,000 grant from colleges and universities and $577,000 from industry partners, including ADtranz/DaimlerChrysler Rail Systems (North America) Inc.; Cutler-Hammer, a division of Eaton Corp.; Oberg Industries; and Penn United Technology. "Over a two-year period, we will be involved in collaborative efforts to develop PRIME as an industry-driven network for learning," says Randy Maiers, director of SME-EF. "It will create a structure that will link K-12 certificate and apprenticeship programs to a region-wide system of higher education." SME-EF has awarded $4 million in cash grants to 27 colleges in North America since 1997, according to Adams. It launched the Manufacturing Education Plan in 1998 to help support the advancement of education in the manufacturing industry.