ST. CLOUD -- A national organization is investing big in the future engineers of central Minnesota.

Apollo High School recently became the first school in the state to receive a Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education (PRIME) grant from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME).

Technology Education Teacher Mark Weimer says while there are no firm plans in place, they plan to use the $150,000 to buy new equipment and invest in training and field trips.

As part of the grant requirement, five area businesses have partnered with SME and Apollo, investing in the programs and tailoring the learning to meet the needs of central Minnesota.

We're kind of only scratching the surface of what we could do here, so this investment with these companies will help us upgrade and modernize what we're doing, but at the same time tailoring it to more of the workforce needs in the local industry.

Weimer says it's no different than investing in any other student activity.

It's no different than anything else that kids do nowadays. If we want our kids to be successful we drive them to basketball practice five days a week or they take violin and they practice, practice, practice. We put a lot of investment and time in so those kids can find confidence and build up their skills. I would just offer up to people that manufacturing is no different. If we give kids the chance to do it and have some practice at it and get comfortable with it, then they're going to want to do it.

Technology Education programs at the school currently include automotive, woodworking, digital, manufacturing, metal, and robotics.

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