By Ritch Ramey
RAMTEC Ohio Coordinator
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will likely need to be filled over the next decade, and a skills gap of a qualified workforce is expected to result in 2 million of those jobs going unfilled. To overcome this challenge, the Tri-Rivers Career Center (Marion, OH) created the Robotics Advanced Manufacturing Technical Education Collaboration (RAMTEC) in April 2012, to help feed the pipeline of skilled workers in the region. The primary focus of RAMTEC is to provide industrial robotics and advanced manufacturing skills training for adults and high school students in and around Marion. Participation in the RAMTEC program allows high school students, as well as the current industry workforce, to experience the best training on the latest industrial equipment while earning college credits and preparing for careers in manufacturing.
RAMTEC is made up of three educational partners: Marion Technical College, The Ohio State University at Marion, and National Robotics Challenge (NRC)—and is supported by local manufacturers, and organizations, including the SME Education Foundation.
Tri-Rivers Career Center became involved with the SME Education Foundation in 2014 after being selected for participation in the Partnership Response In Manufacturing Education (PRIME) program, an initiative that provides opportunities for high school students to develop industry-relevant knowledge and advanced manufacturing skills. PRIME provides Tri-Rivers students and teachers with an opportunity to access real-life manufacturing education and tools, as well as a chance to engage with manufacturing companies in the local community.
As an extension of Tri-Rivers, RAMTEC students also benefit from the PRIME program in several ways:
1. Acquiring expertise on the latest industry equipment;
2. Accessing funding to help expand RAMTEC’s outreach and STEM camps;
3. Discounts on current manufacturing equipment;
4. Eligibility for SME Education Foundation scholarships; and
5. Participation in the SME Bright Minds program for student chapters to advance their knowledge of manufacturing education and career potential.
Building the RAMTEC Structure
In October 2012, we broke ground on the 5000-ft2 (465-m2) state-of-the-art, modern manufacturing training facility to house the RAMTEC program. Eleven months later we hosted the grand opening of the first RAMTEC Ohio facility. Over the next 16 months, credentialing was added to the program, and we moved in all-new industrial equipment from FANUC Robotics, FANUC CNC, Lincoln Electric Robotic Welding, Parker Hydraulics, Yaskawa Motoman Robotics, Rockwell Allen-Bradley, and Mitsubishi Electronics.
By February 2014, our first FANUC adult training class received industry credentials and in May our first graduating class of 11 high school students earned FANUC industrial credentials—the first high school class in the nation to receive this certification.
Since the opening of that first location, we have added eight brand-new RAMTEC sites across Ohio—Miami Valley, Great Oaks, Penta, Pioneer, Tolles, C-TEC, Portage Lakes and Cuyahoga Valley. Thanks to a $15 million Straight A Grant from the Ohio Department of Education, we were able to replicate the RAMTEC facility in Marion by building new or renovating existing career centers and adding the same industry credentialing and partner equipment to each program.
Last summer, 51 instructors completed approximately 3000 hours of training on curriculum, credentialing, and operation of partners’ equipment. And to reinforce what they have learned, the teachers will receive additional training throughout the year. Additionally, all eight RAMTEC Ohio sites participated in an outreach program for high school students last summer. The RAMTEC Vex Robotics Summer Camp attracted more than 300 high school students for this three-day camp, which was partially funded by the PRIME program.
We are grateful to our manufacturing partners for their support of our students in gaining exposure to the latest equipment, curriculum and credentialing.
Partnership is key to the RAMTEC model and it is with valued partners like the SME Education Foundation, PRIME and many others in the private and public sectors that we are able to work to close the manufacturing skills gap and meet the needs of the 21st-century workforce.
This article was first published in the March 2016 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Read “RAMTEC Ohio: Developing the Next Generation of Manufacturing Technicians” as a PDF.
Published Date : 3/1/2016