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Brain STEMs

Registration now open for IMTS Smartforce Summit

For a view of the STEM classroom of the future – and to learn about careers available today – educators, school administrators, students, and parents can visit the Smartforce Student Summit at IMTS – The International Manufacturing Technology Show, which runs Sept. 9-14 at Chicago’s McCormick Place. Registration is now open for the Smartforce Student Summit and includes access to the IMTS show floor, where more than 1,600 exhibitors will represent the breadth of manufacturing technologies. 

The Smartforce Student Summit exhibits emphasize interaction, heavily focus on digital manufacturing technologies, and appeal to students ages K-16. Nearly 70 exhibitors have created education-oriented booths and interactive events for students, which will be held on Level 2 of the East Building of McCormick Place. 

“We have always focused on the manufacturing technology classroom of the future,” says Greg Jones, director of strategic programs and partnerships, SME. “This year, we designed the experience to provide students with a sense of belonging in our industry, providing them with engaging, hands-on exhibits that will encourage them to seek an education in STEM and career pathways in our industry. 

“The Smartforce Student Summit will help students to understand what an education in design, mechatronics, or machining means and how it opens the door to careers as technicians, engineers, entrepreneurs, and more.”  

New in 2024, the Smartforce Student Summit is now co-produced by AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology, which owns and produces IMTS, and SME, the largest workforce development organization in the manufacturing industry.  

"You don’t know what you don’t know about the opportunity that a career in the manufacturing industry can present to you if you don’t experience it yourself,” says Carmen Mahon, Citywide STEM Initiatives manager for Chicago Public Schools. “The best place to do that is right here in Chicago at the Smartforce Student Summit at IMTS 2024 at McCormick Place. Having had the opportunity to tour the Student Summit in 2022, we understand how important it is for students from our community in Chicago to attend IMTS and see themselves as belonging on a career pathway in this important industry.”


Approximately 12,000 students and educators from 46 states participated in the 2022 Smartforce Student Summit, and the 2018 edition saw a record attendance of nearly 24,000 visitors. Jones anticipates about 20,000 at this year’s event, drawing the most students from Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. About 70% of the audience comes from secondary education institutions, and 30% is post-secondary.  

“The future of manufacturing depends on a strong workforce, and AMT and IMTS have a long history of engaging with K-12 schools, colleges, and community organizations, so we can expose students to STEM-oriented careers,” says Catherine Ross, director – community engagement, AMT. “We do a lot of work behind the scenes, such as with helping educators plan a successful visit to IMTS. For example, busing often appears as a challenge, and some public schools do not realize that they can use Perkins V funding for transportation costs associated with excursions and extended learning opportunities tied directly to career-technical education coursework, and that includes IMTS.”  

“The Summit is a unique opportunity for students and educators to collaborate not only with educational representatives from the manufacturing industry but also with the actual industry itself,” says Lindsay Cline, vice president, education business development, Phillips Corp., a global supplier of manufacturing technology and an exhibitor at the Summit. “It is an incredible tool for recruitment, as our students are shoulder to shoulder with industry leaders from across the United States and beyond, interacting and learning together in a collaborative environment.” 

Smartforce Student Summit Exhibit partners, like Phillips, participate in IMTS’ Smartforce Career Connections, a digital career fair that connects them with well-paying, open jobs with high-profile companies in the manufacturing technology, aerospace, and space exploration industries.  

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