LIFT “IGNITES” Advanced Manufacturing Curriculum With Successful Pilot at Stevenson High School

LIFT “IGNITES” Advanced Manufacturing Curriculum With Successful Pilot at Stevenson High School
Michigan High School students have been first to pilot foundational curriculum to prepare them for 21st century design and production environment

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. – Responding to the need for skilled manufacturing workers to fill the expected 3.5 million available jobs over the next decade, Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Sterling Heights, Mich., is successfully piloting a new advanced manufacturing curriculum to better prepare students for the design and production jobs most in-demand by industry.

Developed by LIFT – Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow, a Manufacturing USA institute, and supported by funding from the Department of Defense, “IGNITE: Mastering Manufacturing” is a three-year foundational competency model for the “multi-skilled technician” needed in today’s workplace. The program is being piloted as part of the Stevenson Manufacturing, Automotive, and Manufacturing Design (MADE) academy, which opened this year.

“Utica Community Schools is located in the heart of the defense, automotive and health care industries,” said Dr. Christine Johns, Superintendent of Schools. “Stevenson MADE is one way that we are continuing to work closely with these business and industry leaders to prepare our students for the high paying jobs of the future. IGNITE helps provide experiences to our students in advanced manufacturing in a comprehensive way through both hands-on and virtual learning.”

The IGNITE curriculum couples learning with project-based experiences built around real industry problems and emerging technologies to prepare students for a 21st century production environment and for additional post-secondary education to become engineering technicians, technologists, or engineers.

The pilot at Stevenson is successfully wrapping up its first semester, during which 22 students took an Introduction to Advanced Manufacturing course. IGNITE material science modules have been used to enhance the curriculum in some science classes. Next semester, students will begin an Advanced Manufacturing Systems 1 course and take a field trip to the LIFT Innovation Institute in Detroit to see manufacturing processes and systems first hand.

For the next school year, the IGNITE curriculum will be incorporated into classes being developed for Stevenson MADE academy. The program will also continue to be offered as a pilot to all Stevenson students.

Two high schools in Ohio and Illinois are preparing to launch similar pilots in 2019 working with LIFT and Manufacturing USA institutes, America Makes – which focuses on additive manufacturing technologies — and DMDII – which advances digital manufacturing and design –respectively.

“Our goal was to develop an educational and curriculum pathway that recognizes the next generation manufacturing technical workforce must, in fact, be a workforce of highly skilled technicians – individuals with the knowledge, skills, and abilities who understand materials science and can optimize manufacturing technologies, processes, and systems,” said Emily DeRocco, vice president of education and workforce development, LIFT.

The three-year program follows the model below:

  • Year 1 – Materials Science: Introduction to Materials Sciences and Engineering Design Cycle. Introduction to Advanced Manufacturing: Manufacturing Metrics, Plant Organization, Principles of Materials, Manufacturing Process & Technologies, and Safety Measurement.
  • Year 2 – Advanced Manufacturing Systems 1: Lean Manufacturing Machine and Materials Safety, Quality, Measurement & Control.
  • Year 3 – Advanced Manufacturing Systems 2: Programmable Controllers, Fluid Power, Computer Aided Design, and Computer Aided Manufacturing.

More information on the IGNITE -Mastering Manufacturing Curriculum can be found at


LIFT, operated by the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII), is a Detroit-based, public-private partnership committed to the development and deployment of advanced lightweight metal manufacturing technologies, and implementing education and training initiatives to better prepare the workforce today and in the future. LIFT is one of the founding institutes of Manufacturing USA, and is funded in part by the Department of Defense with management through the Office of Naval Research. Visit or follow on Twitter @NewsFromLIFT to learn more.

Utica Community Schools, Michigan’s second largest school district, is recognized nationally for excellence in education. Student achievement in the district continues to outpace local, state and national levels, and the district’s graduation rate of 93 percent is 13 points higher than Michigan averages. The district prepares students for success in a global economy through a focus on four key areas: providing academic excellence, preparing positive digital citizens, promoting student innovation and ensuring accountability.


Joe Steele

Tim McAvoy
Utica Community Schools