LIFT’s MakerMinded Manufacturing Online Learning Platform Goes Live in West Virginia

Program connects students to STEM experiences and skills to build West Virginia’s future advanced manufacturing workforce

MORGANTOWN, WV – October 5, 2018 — LIFT – Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow, a Manufacturing USA institute, today announced the official launch of its MakerMinded program in West Virginia, marking Manufacturing Day. In partnership with West Virginia University Center for Excellence in STEM Education and West Virginia Forward, MakerMinded will expand students’ and schools’ access to world-class advanced manufacturing and STEM learning experiences through a digital platform and student competition. Through these transformational experiences, middle and high school students will gain 21st century skills and secure their path to in-demand STEM careers.

Originally designed by LIFT and Tennessee Tech University’s iCUBE and launched in 2016, MakerMinded impassions students about advanced manufacturing and equips them with the skills and mindsets needed in the innovation economy. It directly links students to a diverse range of national and local STEM and advanced manufacturing programs, including manufacturing facility tours, gaming activities and project-based learning. MakerMinded also drives a sense of competition, as students and schools receive points for each completed activity, which are tallied on a real-time online leader board, with the top schools being celebrated at year-end recognition events.

The program’s expansion into West Virginia is made possible through a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense’s National Defense Education Program, to help fulfill the mission to attract, inspire, and develop exceptional STEM talent across the education continuum. Through exposure to cutting-edge education programs and activities, MakerMinded students can become the future workforce needed to meet the nation’s most complex defense technological and manufacturing challenges.

“Energizing students to learn about STEM fields and advanced manufacturing at an age when they are beginning to plan their futures is critical to help pave pathways to these in-demand careers,” said Gay Stewart, director of the Center for Excellence in STEM Education. “By providing a portfolio of career exploration activities, interactive projects and other experiential learning opportunities, we are encouraging and preparing West Virginia youth to pursue meaningful careers. There is no question that this exciting program will help us move West Virginia forward.”

West Virginia will become part of a national MakerMinded initiative that includes campaigns in Detroit, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee, where LIFT works with local partners to onboard schools and activate students’ participation. To date, over 5,000 students and teachers from over 400 middle and high schools are active on the platform.

“The innovative MakerMinded platform has proven success in attracting students to the world of advanced manufacturers. LIFT is proud to be part of the movement to prepare the next generation of West Virginia innovators and makers,” said Emily DeRocco, vice-president, education and workforce development, LIFT. “The experiences MakerMinded provides help build the foundational technical and employability skills young students need as they prepare to enter a competitive career and adulthood.”

The West Virginia MakerMinded’s goal is to sign up 50 schools and 1,000 users across West Virginia by the end of the 2018-2019 academic year. Awards will be presented to the top performing schools for their engagement in May 2019.

“West Virginia Forward identifies STEM education as essential to a dynamic workforce to prepare for the jobs of the future,” said Joyce McConnell, provost and vice president for academic affairs at WVU. “The average salary of jobs in the advanced manufacturing industry is already over one and a half times the average West Virginia salary, and increasing. MakerMinded serves as a great vehicle to prepare West Virginia students to fill these openings and ultimately help us build a more dynamic talent pipeline.”

Students, schools, employers and others interested in joining the West Virginia MakerMinded campaign should visit

About LIFT – Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow
LIFT 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.

Jacey Cavanagh
(610) 637-2796

Joe Steele
(313) 309-9132