East Lake High School in Tarpon Springs, Florida received a nice Christmas present, as the 
SME (Society of Manufacturing Engineers) Education Foundation announced the school as the recipient of machining technology worth more than $68,000. Haas Automation will provide the school’s engineering program with a Haas TM-1P CNC vertical mill including six control simulator modules.
Starting with just 22 students in 2003, the Academy of Engineering at East Lake High School has since enrolled over 600 students, and their wait list averages 100 students a year. Graduates have an average weighted GPA of 4.3, and over 90 percent go on to pursue post-secondary degrees, with 71 percent declaring engineering as their major. 
Their curriculum, which emphasizes hands-on experience, was developed using the principles outlined in Project Lead The Way’s “Pathway to Engineering.” In 2008, the Academy was recognized by Project Lead The Way as a top 10 national high school. In 2009, the Pinellas County Board of Education identified the Academy as a Center for Excellence. Earlier in 2013, the SME Education Foundation designated the Academy as a PRIME school, bringing national attention to the school’s outstanding manufacturing program.
Rodney Grover, Senior Development Officer for the SME Education Foundation, which facilitated the grant, was enthusiastic in his praise: “The East Lake PRIME program under the direction of Paul Wahnish is producing results for the manufacturing community by inspiring, preparing, and supporting the next generation of innovators for industry. Thanks to the generosity of Haas Automation, Career Technical Education Foundation and others, students at East Lake will be instructed using the latest in technology.”
The vertical mill will enable East Lake students to become proficient with current industry machining and CNC standard practices. To operate the CNC mill, students will learn to translate academic theory into practice using mathematics, especially trigonometry and geometry. CNC machinery also requires students to have basic computer coding skills. Eventually, they will also be able to compete for paid internships that are only available to students experienced with CNC machines. By allowing the students to create their own parts such as wheels, gears, and sprockets, the Haas CNC vertical mill will also allow the Academy to save thousands of dollars each year.
Gene Haas founded Haas Automation in 1983 to manufacture economical and reliable machine tools. Haas manufactures four major product lines: vertical machining centers (VMCs), horizontal machining centers (HMCs), CNC lathes and rotary tables, and a number of large five-axis and specialty machines. The company’s 1.3 million square foot facility in Oxnard, California, is the largest machine tool manufacturing operation in the United States.
The SME Education Foundation is committed to inspiring, supporting, and preparing the next generation of manufacturing engineers and technologists. Created by SME in 1979, the SME Education Foundation has provided more than $33 million in grants, scholarships, and awards since 1980 through its partnerships with corporations, organizations, foundations, and individual donors. To learn more, visit the SME Education Foundation at smeef.org.