YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Youngstown State University and Eastern Gateway Community College have been awarded nearly $550,000 in state grants that will help improve the region’s manufacturing capacity and workforce.
YSU’s grant for $299,015 will be used to purchase equipment to help the university continue developing a comprehensive curriculum in the rapidly emerging field of additive manufacturing. The $250,000 Eastern Gateway grant will be used to purchase equipment for a regional advance pipeline welding laboratory at the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center, according to a news release issued by YSU.
“The addition of this equipment is yet another important step in YSU’s evolution into a premier educational, research and workforce development center for the additive manufacturing industry,” said Ikram Khawaja, YSU interim president.
“Eastern Gateway believes in responding quickly to workforce demands because jobs are needed to grow the local economy and to help area residents have better lives,” said Laura Meeks, president of Eastern Gateway. “With this advance pipeline welding lab project, the college will work in partnership with MCCTC to provide a state-of-the-art training location for good-paying jobs that are currently in high demand.”
The grants from the Ohio Board of Regents are part of the Job Training Capital Improvement Facilities Fund-Workforce Development Equipment and Facility program, which is designed to help higher education institutions purchase equipment to prepare workers to meet the needs of growing and high-demand industries.
The YSU grant allows the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics to purchase 3D printers and scanners, laser cutters, advanced metrology equipment and a sintering furnace, said Brett Conner, associate professor and director of the YSU Center for Innovation in Additive Manufacturing.
“This equipment will form the foundation of an integrated curriculum at YSU that covers the entire additive manufacturing process,” Conner said.
The grant is the latest in a series of YSU efforts related to additive manufacturing. Earlier this year, YSU opened the Center for Innovation in Additive Manufacturing, which includes two high-end 3D printers capable of printing metals and ceramics, as well as a series of printers for plastics that are more accessible for all students and the public.
A year ago, Siemens Corp. announced that it was awarding $440 million worth of software and training to the YSU STEM College. And, two years ago, YSU played a central role in the federal government’s decision to select downtown Youngstown as the site of the first National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, now called America Makes. YSU students and faculty are regularly engaged in America Makes activities.
Conner said a growing number of companies in Ohio are taking advantage of additive manufacturing technology. The new equipment will allow YSU to continue to develop an additive manufacturing curriculum that includes design, printing and post-processing of parts to meet customer specifications. These three components, Conner said, will result in three broad categories of job skills: drafting and design, equipment operations and maintenance, and post processing.
Under the Eastern Gateway grant, 15 welding stations for the training of intermediate to advanced welders will be established. MCCTC will provide 4,000 square feet of space plus utilities for the lab that will be used by Eastern Gateway and the Career Center students.
“This project will strengthen the Mahoning Valley’s position to attract businesses and to advance the local workforce,” Meeks said.
In all, nine community colleges and three universities will receive grant funds to expand and develop new workforce development education and training programs. The nearly $3 million will be used to purchase equipment that will enable students and incumbent workers to improve their skills to advance their careers in regional industries.
The state funding comes from higher education bonds used for capital investments. Participating community colleges and universities are partnering with more than 45 companies and 25 other post-secondary institutions, including eight Ohio technical centers.
Schools will partner with businesses in their region to provide education and training to meet occupational and skill needs in key JobsOhio industry sectors or functions, including advanced manufacturing and information services and logistics.
The other grant recipients were:
- Belmont College: $35,975, will purchase equipment to expand its welding programs into a second lab to meet the increased demand created by gas exploration and pipeline development for students and incumbent workers with training certificates and degrees in the field.
- Cleveland State University: $293,500, will purchase equipment to establish the Additive Manufacturing Instructional and Training Laboratory. The new 3-D printers will enable students to learn new manufacturing practices and incumbent workers to acquire skills in additive manufacturing to further improve their careers.
- Cuyahoga Community College: $242,000, will purchase equipment to meet the growing need and interest by students and incumbent workers in the field of industrial welding through a new Metal Joining and Test Lab. The lab will assist and support students seeking a Metals Joining Technician certificate and other credentials, including degrees.
- Lorain County Community College: $281,650, will be used to develop a laboratory classroom to enhance the Mechatronics Technology/MEMS Curricula. This curricula supports a Short Term Technical Certificate, One-Year Technical Certificate program and Associate of Applied Science in Engineering Technologies degree.
- North Central State College: $264,877, will develop a Fabrication Laboratory (Fab Lab) with CNC and robotics training equipment to educate students and improve the skills and training of displaced and incumbent workers in the manufacturing industry.
- Northwest State Community College: $324,000, will purchase equipment to support and expand its industrial maintenance automation certificate program at the Archbold campus, and purchase equipment to expand educational and training opportunities in practical nursing at its Van Wert campus.
- Rhodes State College: $248,468, will purchase equipment to educate and train students and incumbent workers pursuing careers in northwest Ohio’s advanced manufacturing industry. The grant award builds on the college’s successful relationship with the West Central Ohio Manufacturer’s Consortium.
- Stark State College: $300,000, will purchase equipment to develop a self-contained portable welding facility to provide on-site welding education and training to students, and manufacturing and energy industry partners.
- Southern State Community College: $243,000, will purchase equipment to improve and expand the Southern State Truck Driving Academy, providing education and training for the field in cooperation with five other post-secondary institutions.
- University of Cincinnati – $121,981, will purchase equipment to develop a training lab to address a wide spectrum of IT needs in the region, including system network administration and cybersecurity.