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Discover Manufacturing Awards $9,000 in Scholarships to Fuel the Future of Michigan Manufacturing

Updated: Jun 23


In an effort to fuel innovation and diversity in Michigan's thriving manufacturing sector, Discover Manufacturing, a network of more than 200 regional employers, has awarded nine unique scholarships totaling $9,000 to promising students in the region. The scholarships were awarded during the council's June meeting at the West Michigan Works! Grand Rapids NW Service Center on June 9.

The recipients, both new and returning students, were chosen based on a 500-word essay detailing their passion for manufacturing and how they plan to make a difference in the industry. Also, scholarship renewals underwent an interview process. Four scholarships were renewed this year, with three going to second-year recipients and one to a third-year recipient. Five new scholarships were awarded.

"We are not just awarding scholarships; we are investing in the future innovators and change-makers of Michigan's manufacturing industry," said Jerry Hill, Discover Manufacturing industry council lead, West Michigan Works! "The immense talent, passion and dedication exhibited by these students assure us that the future of manufacturing in our state is bright and resilient."

First-year scholarship recipient Madison Hitts, a Sparta High School graduate pursuing a Welding Engineering Technology degree at Ferris State University, has a vision of increasing diversity within the industry. "I want to take a small step towards bringing more women into the world of manufacturing," Madison said. "I will be someone who is an encouraging, motivational, happy and enthusiastic speaker to the people around me."

Another first-year scholarship recipient, Hunter Rop, a Kent Career Tech Center graduate, is enrolling at Lake Superior State University. Hunter has already gained hands-on experience through an internship where he wired programmable logic controllers. Recognizing the industry's dynamic nature, Hunter said, "The manufacturing industry is constantly evolving, and new innovators are needed every day. I plan on being part of the future that lays the foundation for success within the manufacturing field." The 2023 Discover Manufacturing scholarship recipients are:

  • Jarod Ensing, Ferris State University (Associates - Welding Engineering Technology)

  • Landon Wybenga, Ferris State University (Welding Engineering Technology)

  • Madison Hitts, Ferris State University (Welding Engineering Technology)

  • Hope Vander Heide, Indiana University and Purdue University (Engineering)

  • Hunter Rop, Lake Superior State University (Electrical Engineering)

  • K. Erich Laird, Ferris State University (Welding Engineering Technology)

  • Dinesh Ravikumar, University of Michigan (Mechanical Engineering - Automation)

  • Charles Hartman, University of Michigan (Materials Science)

  • Grace Klang, Western Michigan University (Aerospace Engineering)

"The dedication of these nine students in their pursuit of a career in manufacturing goes beyond academics. They’ve demonstrated their innovative spirit, determination, and the technical aptitude that will impact the future growth and success of the manufacturing industry in West Michigan," said Steve Heethuis, Discover Manufacturing Council chair and director of talent development, Praeco Skills.

With manufacturing accounting for 19% of Michigan's total output and employing 14% of the workforce, Discover Manufacturing's commitment to bolstering the sector through education is a significant step towards the continued growth and innovation of the industry.

According to the West Michigan Works! Hot Jobs List, advanced manufacturing occupations make up nearly a quarter of the top 100 high-demand careers in the region. These jobs demonstrate a growth rate of at least 4 percent—double the regional average—over the past decade and offer wages at or above $14.30.

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