Making It Right Here.

SolidWorks in the High Schools


The Northwest Intermountain Manufacturers Association (NIMA) identified workforce development as a primary objective of the organization in response to the memberships concerns over the quality and quantity of the workforce available to sustain and grow our region's manufacturing businesses. NIMA applied for and was awarded a grant by the federal EDA to evaluate the workforce shortage amongst its members and to develop strategies to address these shortages. It was determined that any meaningful effort to address the workforce shortage issue in the region would require, at its core, a sustainable effort to introduce and attract our youth to this industry as a career choice. NIMA began this effort by offering tours of area manufacturing companies to school administration and staff. At the conclusion of these tours a roundtable discussion occurred to discuss the level of interest by the schools and manufacturers in partnering in an effort to expose students to careers in the manufacturing industry. The response from both the manufacturers and the schools was very positive.

Various methods of exposing students to manufacturing careers were discussed and it was decided that an excellent starting point would be to help the schools offer Computer Aided Design (CAD) to the students. The reasoning behind this is that development of a CAD program in the schools would create a meeting point or common language between industry and the schools that was practical and sustainable and would promote collaboration between industry and the schools throughout the school year. SolidWorks was chosen as the CAD application because of its popularity amongst area manufacturers and the willingness of Quest Integration; the area's SolidWorks authorized reseller, to support this effort with software, training, and technical support.


To create and maintain a relationship between manufacturers, educators, and students with the goal of exposing those students to the career opportunities in the manufacturing industry while improving the quality and quantity of the workforce available to manufacturers.


  • In 2008 and 2009, teachers from 10 Washington schools and 12 Idaho schools participated in the SolidWorks Essentials training.
  • 22 teachers went through the program and according to the class size reported by each teacher, 380 students had the opportunity to be introduced to this software.
  • Manufacturer site tours were set up for the teachers to learn more about the industry.
  • Software licenses were purchased for the schools.
  • Technical advice and manufacturing assistance in milling out designated student designs using SolidWorks will be given to students and teachers.
  • Two Kamiah students competed at the State level using SolidWorks in the Technical Drafting competition of Skills USA and took home gold and silver. 


On April 25, 2011, Lewis-Clark State College (LCSC) received notification of a $200,000 grant award through the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education Program to develop and test a model for rural, regional workforce development that supports small rural manufacturing and their ability to be innovative and agile in the global economy. 

Project Goal: With renewed emphasis on high tech regional economic development planning and implementation as the road to economic diversity and regional prosperity, the project seeks to address the struggle for rural schools to address the technical needs of the emerging workforce and the challenges for rural areas to retool themselves for the global economy in manufacturing.  It recognizes that rural areas do not have the financial and human capital resources to mimic the manufacturing workforce partnerships in urban areas and it shall create a model that can work for rural regions of the United States.

This project meets the Advanced Technological Education Program’s central goal of “producing more qualified science and engineering technicians to meet workforce demands, and improving the technical skills and the general science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) preparation of these technicians and the educators who prepare them.”  It also addresses ATE’s particular interest in rural technician education.  It addresses what has been identified as a crisis of U.S. student disengagement from STEM. It presents a model that involves students in real learning through real work. Student work in this instance is project-based and situated in the students’ respective local community.

Project Activities:  Over a 36-month period, this project shall create and document a process for establishing and maintaining a rural, regional workforce consortium to support technical education and local manufacturers; pilot integration of a common manufacturing solid modeling computer-aided-design tool into high schools which encourages innovation and problem solving across STEM curriculum; develop and test an active mentoring program that provides practical technical skill development in a contextual manner that can be transferred from school to the world of work; and develop, integrate, and test a multi-grade career pathways exploration program related to STEM-rich technical fields.  Throughout the project, the model and all its elements shall be evaluated by analyzing learning effectiveness through three test systems; considering student team work and problem solving through project outcomes and student evaluations; and looking at educator teams by tracking hours of activity and through teacher self-evaluations. 

Partnerships:  Regional project partners include the University of Idaho, six (6) local school districts, and three economic development organizations to include Clearwater Economic Development Association, Northwest Intermountain Manufacturers Association, and Valley Vision. 

School Districts Involved in this Pilot Project:  The school districts that supported the LCSC proposal and to whom this project is geared toward include:  Lewiston High School, Moscow High School, Nez Perce High School, Orofino High School, Prairie High School, and Kamiah High School.  Communication will be forthcoming over the next few months. 

Project Deliverables:  Deliverables shall include an established consortium; completion of a 4-day solid modeling professional development workshop for secondary educators and two, 2-day curriculum professional development workshops focused on using solid modeling in STEM curriculum; developed accredited course/s for educators using STEM student team activities for course projects; student independent electronic learning modules from manufacturer project ideas;  a program guide for establishing active mentoring program including training for mentors, project activities, and a regional competition; articulation agreements; and dissemination materials. 


  • Northwest Intermountain Manufacturers Association (NIMA)
  • Clearwater Economic Development Association (CEDA)
  • Tech Prep
  • Palouse Economic Development Council
  • Valley Vision
  • Quest Integration
  • University of Idaho
  • Lewis-Clark State College
  • Washington Participating Schools
    • Asotin
    • Asotin Middle School
    • Clarkston
    • Clarkston Middle School
    • Lincoln Middle School
    • Pomeroy
    • Pullman
    • Walla Walla
  • Idaho Participating Schools
    • Lewiston
    • Prairie
    • Orofino
    • Kamiah
    • Nez Perce
    • Troy
    • Potlatch
    • Moscow
    • Grangeville
    • Timberline

1626 6th Avenue North | Lewiston Idaho 83501 | 208-746-0015

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