The Greene County Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) has awarded a $75,000 grant to Ohio University’s Russ Research Center LLC (RRC) in Beavercreek Township for additive manufacturing equipment to support the first workforce development program of its kind in the Dayton region.
The equipment purchase supports a collaborative workforce development training program in the burgeoning fields of additive manufacturing and quality assurance through optical metrology.
“We’re very excited to support the Russ Research Center and Ohio University’s Russ College of Engineering and Technology, as they develop new teaching and training programs. These programs, and the partners Ohio University are bringing to the table, create an exciting new development in Greene County’s efforts to attract and retain highly skilled workers,” said Director of Development for Greene County Paul Newman Jr. “New employers consistently rank a highly-trained workforce as a top requirement when looking to expand and relocate. This program will emphasize new technologies that will enable the county to attract new businesses, while helping existing businesses to develop their workforce and stay abreast of new tools and techniques.”
The Greene County CIC typically awards grants to startup companies through its Economic Development Incentive Program (EDIP). The RRC workforce development program will support startups with a highly trained workforce, so the CIC’s board of trustees created a new funding stream parallel to the EDIP as part of an ongoing commitment to train Greene County’s current workforce for better paying jobs, as well as to attract and retain companies that need highly skilled employees.
Scott Miller, associate dean for industry partnerships at the Russ College, says because current unemployment numbers are at near-historic lows, the challenge now is to prepare the workforce for “better” jobs in the region, and to attract new employers via a highly-trained talent pool.
“We’re expanding our offerings at the Russ Research Center to not only include research, but to reflect the core educational mission of the Ohio University. Courses will be concentrated in new forms of manufacturing, including robotic welding, 3D design and metal additive, and non-contact metrology,” he said. “These skills build upon existing manufacturing techniques (stick welding, milling, quality control), but also involve new methods such as robotic programming, computer-aided design, and laser inspection.”
Currently in the Dayton region, there are 683 unfilled manufacturing jobs, with a median salary of $62,405.
“On the teaching and training side, the plan is to start developing hands-on modules that support active users while developing specialized modules for offline programming and advance applications for additive manufacturing,” said Jesus Pagan, assistant professor of engineering technology and management in the Russ College.
According to Miller, the future jobs are hands-on, high-tech, and will be highly sought after.
“They’re a combination of traditional white-collar and blue-collar positions – what experts are referring to as ‘new-collar’ jobs in 21st century manufacturing. There are very few places that are offering training for these jobs of the future, jobs for which demand will only increase,” Miller added.
Partners in the Russ Research Center’s application include Universal Technology Corporation; Materials Resources, LLC; KBR Wyle; Persistent Surveillance Systems, and the Greene County Public Library.