Ohio Funds Tech Collaborations in Higher Ed
by Michelle Faust
Representatives from 11 Northeast Ohio colleges and universities met at the University of Akron Tuesday. The schools showed off projects that will give their students hands-on experience for their future careers.
Higher education leaders say it’s hard to teach students how to use state of the art technology when the colleges can’t afford to buy it. So, this year the Ohio Department of Higher Education is distributing $8 million dollars in grants to help fund the purchases. Then, institutions collaborate to share that technology, which include things like: advanced manufacturing equipment, 3-D printers, and equipment for telemedicine. The program is call RAPIDS (Regional Aligned Priorities in Delivering Skills).
Dr. Deborah Hardy with Lakeland Community College says students who train with the new tech are better suited to fill in-demand jobs in Ohio. "Here in northeast Ohio, we had all the big hospitals saying, “Yes, we have got to address the telemedicine issues here, and where the transformation of healthcare is going,” says Hardy.
This was the first year of the grant program which paid for high tech equipment used in healthcare, manufacturing and cybersecurity education.
Chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education John Carey says it’s one way education advances the state economy, “One of the most important drivers of the economy is education. We define education not just as a 4-year degree or master's degree, but having those skills to be successful. So, that may be an associate degree in machining or that may be the PhD in telemedicine.”
Ashley Martof is working on her master’s degree in industrial and systems engineering at Youngstown State University. She has worked on internships with additive manufacturing equipment (It’s like 3-D printing on an industrial scale).
“This technology so new in developing that there's going to be so many different opportunities,” says Martof enthusiastically. Additive manufacturing can create large machinery, intricate car parts, or things are delicate as fancy chocolates. Researchers have experimented with using tissue to print functional organs.
For Martof, it’s important that students get hands-on experience with the high tech equipment.
“Actually, it just triggers so much more in your brain, instead of reading in a book. You know? It’s so different,” she says.