Mission: To ignite interest in manufacturing careers among the nation's youth, through development of innovative educational tools, curriculum and outreach programs and in partnership with schools, community groups, companies, and industry associations.
Programs: The keystone project of the shop rat foundation is the shop rat education program. This program currently encompasses introductory, developing and advanced levels of programming for students enrolled in grades 6-12 across six counties in michigan, and serving over 3,000 youth annually. Students may participate in afterschool classes, collaborative projects with local schools or summer workshops that focus on welding, machining, construction, engineering and advanced manufacturing (including mechatronics and additive manufacturing), while reinforcing their comprehension of math and science concepts and familiarity with current technology. The shop rat education program embraces a "project based" approach and that encourages collaboration among students and development of critical thinking skills. In addition, the shop rat education program includes a curriculum component that focuses on career exploration related to the previously mentioned focus areas and allows students the opportunity to gain greater awareness and understanding on how those working in these fields affect society. Projects students participate in within the shop rat education program include: co2 powered wooden dragsters, electrical circuitry, gmaw welding, manual machining (mill & lathe), construction/wiring of children's playhouses, and use of cad/cam software programs.
in 2017, the shop rat foundation continued in its pursuit toward continuous improvement with efforts made to fully align the curriculum utilized within the shop rat education program with state of michigan cte standards, as well as the needs of the local industry within their service areas to collaboratively establish complete educational pipelines toward careers within the manufacturing industry. Additionally, the shop rat foundation expanded reach to include two new counties; eaton and hillsdale. This expansion introduced new collective impact partnerships with lansing community college and hillsdale intermediate school district. In addition to these partnerships, the shop rat foundation has also launched a new partnership with the jackson ymca to promote greater accessibility to inter-city youth and their families to hands-on stem and manufacturing focused career and educational opportunities.