Return to Headlines

LaPorte County CTE Launching Smart Manufacturing Program

Michigan City, IN – January 25, 2024 – Students from across LaPorte County with an interest in robotics, technology, and automation will soon have the opportunity to train for a hot new career field: Smart Manufacturing. 

In August, the Laporte County Career and Technical Education program will offer a program in Smart Manufacturing at its new facility at 1001 US Hwy 20 in Michigan City, which formerly housed Brown Mackie College. Michigan City Area Schools acquired the facility last year, and it offers a Pre-K program there for 4-year-olds, the Little Wolves Early Learning Center, and a training program for students interested in Early Childhood careers. The district is now renovating the building to provide state-of-the-art classrooms and lab spaces for Welding, Construction, Automotive, and other career-tech programs.

Smart Manufacturing is the use of emerging, advanced technologies to increase the efficiency of traditional manufacturing processes. 

According to Dr. David Notary, Interim Director of the LaPorte County CTE Program, Smart Manufacturing was a high-priority area for local companies, and he believes it will be an appealing career field for many students. “Our program will include hands-on labs, virtual simulations, field trips, and critical thinking assignments,” he said. This is an exciting industry, and our program will focus on subjects like robotics and AI, which we know are very engaging to today’s students.” 

In addition to Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, coursework for Smart Manufacturing will center on the “Internet of Things,” Cybersecurity, Big Data, CNC operation, CAD/CAM programming, Smart Sensors, Fluid Power, Analytics, and more. Dual credit will be offered in partnership with Ivy Tech, and students completing the program will also earn several industry certifications.

Students from seven area school districts are eligible to enroll in the Smart Manufacturing program, which will serve Michigan City, LaPorte, New Prairie, Westville, South Central, Lacrosse, and New Buffalo High Schools. Current sophomores and juniors interested in enrolling for the fall should contact their school counselor. 

Funding to establish the new Smart Manufacturing program is provided in part through a $125,000 Perkins Reserve Grant from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.  Perkins Reserve Funds are awarded to programs that foster innovation or promote the development, implementation, and adoption of programs aligned with state-identified high-skill, high-wage, or in-demand occupations or industries. 

“We are thrilled to announce this new program,” said Dr. Barbara Eason-Watkins, Superintendent of Michigan City Area Schools, which oversees LaPorte County CTE. “We are grateful for the assistance of the Economic Development Corporation Michigan City in identifying industry needs. Programs such as this are helping us prepare our graduates for high-paying, high-demand jobs right here in LaPorte County.” 

Clarence Hulse, Executive Director of the Economic Development Corporation Michigan City noted that several area companies utilize Smart Manufacturing, and others are looking to locate here. An EV battery plant in New Carlisle is slated for completion in December 2027 that will feature
3 million square feet of manufacturing space and is expected to create 1,700 new jobs. “These employers need a workforce, and programs such as this are an important step in meeting this critical need,” he said. 

The LaPorte County Career and Technical Education Smart Manufacturing program will prepare students with the skills and knowledge they need for an entry-level position as a technician or to pursue additional training. Graduates with expertise in the field can become Automation Integrators, Controls Technicians, Engineering Technologists, Automation Technicians, and Robot Technicians, with a median salary of $68,230, according to the U. S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The program is seeking industry partners to assist with curricula, equipment donations, field trips and internship opportunities. Contact Dr. David Notary for information at, or call (219) 873-2120.

For more information about the LaPorte County Career and Technical Education Program, visit