Scholarships support students studying advanced manufacturing

Grace Klang has looked up to the sky since she was a kid and has seen her future. A dream of working for NASA motivated her to take STEM classes, including AP Physics and AP Calculus.

She’s in her first year at Western Michigan University, studying aerospace engineering, but has enough AP credits to give her sophomore status.

“Western has a great program,” says Klang, who chose the university in Kalamazoo because it was local and affordable. “It's really difficult, so it's pushing me. They don't hold your hand, which is also kind of nice because it allows you to set yourself apart by putting the effort in.”

Helping her pay for college is a $500 scholarship she received her senior year at Plainwell High School.

“It took care of all my books, which was really nice,” Klang says. 

Regional network of manufacturers

The scholarship came from Discover Manufacturing. The regional network of more than 400 manufacturers addressing the talent needs of West Michigan’s manufacturing industry, is awarding up to $6,000 in scholarships to students pursuing careers in the advanced manufacturing industry. 

Scholarships range from $500 to $2,000 and will be awarded on May 3, 2022, National Skilled Trades Signing Day. Applications are due by 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 28, 2022. 

"Manufacturing is a vital part of Michigan’s economy, benefiting West Michigan by raising living standards and generating economic activity,” says Jerry Hill, industry council lead, West Michigan Works!. “We’re seeing more employers than ever who are willing to invest in the education of their workforce. Our scholarship is designed to support students and prospective tradespeople as they enter the exciting and lucrative field of advanced manufacturing.”

According to the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, manufacturers in Michigan account for 19 percent of the total output in the state, employing 14% of the workforce.  

As of 2020, more than 600,000 Michigan workers are employed in the manufacturing industry and have an average annual compensation of $79,320.10.

Application specifics
Applications are open to graduating high school seniors in Kent, Ottawa, Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Montcalm, and Muskegon counties who are pursuing a degree in a manufacturing-related program or technical training in Michigan. Adults and apprentices pursuing continuing education also may apply. 

To apply for a scholarship, applicants must submit a 500-word essay about why manufacturing is the right career path for them and how they plan to make a difference in a manufacturing environment.  
Scholarships of up to $1,000 are renewable for prior recipients, based on the completion of an application and interview with the selection committee. Alternate non-monetary awards — including mentoring, internships, training and job shadowing opportunities — may be offered to qualified individuals who are not selected for a scholarship. 

Scholarship recipients will be recognized at a reception where they have an opportunity to network with West Michigan employers and educational partners. 

To apply, visit

Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.