Program to bring lightweight materials and careers to life for students

On July 15 Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT) and Learning Blade®, an interactive web-based STEM learning system announced Mission LIFT. Mission LIFT is an initiative focused on increasing students’ interest in science, engineering, technology, and math (STEM), and motivating middle and high school students toward careers in Advanced Manufacturing. Utilizing Learning Blade’s unique “Mission” system, LIFT and Learning Blade will create a new curriculum for students to explore lightweighting methods, materials, and technologies used by welders, machinists, industrial designers and drafters, engineers, and materials scientists.

“Manufacturers’ expanding demand for a highly skilled science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce creates increasing opportunities for students with these skills,” said Larry Brown, executive director, LIFT. “The purpose of Mission LIFT is to allow students to immerse themselves into STEM fields in the area of metal technologies at an early age and help reconnect today’s youth to high quality, middle skills jobs.”

The Learning Blade system is organized into “Missions” that focus on societal problems and needs, enabling students to participate in engaging lessons, such as building an environmentally-sound orphanage after a major earthquake or solving energy and transportation needs in a particular city. Each task reviews specific academic skills presented in real-life context and highlights how STEM skills are used in the real world and how they link to real careers.

“Students today need meaningful experiences and learning opportunities that expand beyond what a standard classroom can provide,” said Emily Stover DeRocco, workforce and education director, LIFT. “This is an opportunity to engage students and allow them to explore career opportunities that are essential to the STEM economy and its future success.”

More than 25,000 students are registered in the Learning Blade system within 22 states, including the 5-state LIFT region – Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Additionally, all current and future licensed Learning Blade sites will have access to the new Mission LIFT curriculum, putting the new initiative in several hundred locations by Fall 2015. LIFT’s goal is to expand the number of middle schools using Learning Blade in this 5-state region.

“Using technology to deliver real-world experiences is the future of teaching,” said Sheila Boyington, president, Thinking Media. “Using our digital platform to bring STEM career awareness to students and provide them with an opportunity to become part of the future manufacturing workforce is our goal.”

Mission LIFT partners include Thinking Media, BattelleEd and STEMconnector®.

For more information on Mission LIFT and other LIFT education and workforce development initiatives, please visit www.lift.technology or contact LIFT Workforce & Education Director, Emily DeRocco, at ederocco@lift.technology.

Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow (LIFT) is a public-private partnership that will develop and deploy advanced lightweight materials manufacturing technologies and programs to prepare the workforce. The LIFT region includes 5 states: Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee.

LIFT is operated by the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII) and was selected through a competitive process led by the U.S. Department of Defense under the Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation (LM3I) solicitation issued by the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research. LIFT is one of the founding institutes in the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, a federal initiative to create regional hubs to accelerate the development and adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies.

Learning Blade®, owned and operated by Thinking Media, creators of ACT’s KeyTrain®, is designed to provide engaging resources that will expose students to STEM related career opportunities and help them develop key skills as they move forward. This innovative approach to STEM education focuses on activities that can be utilized both in a self-paced game environment and as practice in academic classrooms.


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