Over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs likely will need to be filled, just when today’s K-12 students will be entering the workforce. Experts project that up to 2 million of these jobs could go unfilled due to a skills gap. According to the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, advanced manufacturing job growth in Tennessee outpaces the national average by almost 20%. How can we ensure that Tennessee’s students are not only prepared with the skills to fill these careers, but also eager to pursue them? MakerMinded seeks to address this gap.

Co-sponsored by Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT) and the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network (TSIN), MakerMinded is a digital platform, www.tn.makerminded.com, that connects Tennessee students to leading-edge STEM and advanced manufacturing education experiences, while harnessing competition to increase participation. With each completed STEM activity, schools earn points on the live leaderboard. At the end of the year, schools that have earned the most points will be recognized at the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network summit and win high-tech, in-demand prizes.

MakerMinded gives middle school and high school students access to the right STEM programs that will encourage and prepare them for further education and careers in advanced manufacturing and other STEM careers. Examples of the unique programs included on the platform are Learning Blade, a mission-driven online STEM curriculum; Science Olympiad; First Robotics; the “LIFT Assembly Line” Virtual Reality game; a Nissan Factory tour, and many other local activities.