Expanding the next-generation manufacturing workforce

American schools reinvented through makerspaces.


Manufacturing is central to the foundation of the American economy. Yet most Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs do not have the latest hardware, software, and equipment to meet the industry’s changing needs. The U.S. Department of Education sought to demonstrate how a classroom could be redesigned to support a dynamic domestic manufacturing sector.


After a decade of decline in the 2000s, American manufacturing grew at its fastest rate in decades, with 877,000 new manufacturing jobs created since February 2010. To expand the workforce, American schools sought to transform CTE manufacturing programs of study to provide students with vital career skills, including critical thinking, planning, communication, and problem solving.


We designed and produced the CTE Makeover Challenge, calling on high schools to design makerspaces that strengthen next-generation skills. Over 640 schools, representing all 50 states, submitted makerspace plans. All eligible schools had access to the CTE Makeover Bootcamp, a 6-week program that provided resources and expertise in makerspace design and planning. 10 prize winners each received $20,000 in cash and in-kind goods and services from over 20 private sector companies, including Autodesk, LEGO Education, Mozilla Foundation, and Snap-On, to turn their makerspace vision into a reality.