Changing Workforce / STEM Education / Career Development

Buckeyes manufacturing new program to train next generation

By Matt LaWell, for IndustryWeek

Aug 16, 2017

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A new program situated almost literally in the shadow of Ohio Stadium could help improve those rankings — and turn Columbus into a destination for the next generation of manufacturing leaders.

About to kick off its third year, the Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME) is not like other programs — either on the Ohio State campus or at most colleges in general.

Students are hired employees, for starters, working as many as 16 hours per week during the academic year, and they aren’t pursuing a major, or even a minor: They’re all there for real, practical, experiential learning. They all work on real projects for real manufacturers. Some might even receive a patent. (One student has already done just that.)

Also, the folks guiding them aren’t professors or assistants. Every one of them is either an active engineer or a former manufacturing executive or decision maker.

“That mentorship and experience you get from people that are in industry, that can spend the time to work with you, that’s what we’re trying to give the students here,” said John Bair, who started as an engineering student at Ohio State in 1985, founded Pinnacle Data Systems Inc. as a junior, then built it into a player in the medical and defense industries until selling it for $22.5 million and walking away three years ago.

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