$12 Million Excellence Training Center Opens

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – As it prepares future workers for careers in advanced manufacturing, the Excellence Training Center at Youngstown State University stands to accelerate research, development and commercialization of new products or processes for the private sector, officials said July 26 at its dedication.

The center is a partnership among YSU, Eastern Gateway Community College, America Makes, the Youngstown Business Incubator, Youngstown City Schools, and the career and technical centers of Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties.

Corporate interests such as Fanuc and Rockwell Automation are likely to play a role in the center’s future. Local companies, too, can use the center as a laboratory to train employees, solve problems or experiment with new product prototypes or materials.

More opportunities could include work with the U.S. Department of Defense, says David Sipusic, executive director and YSU associate general counsel for research. 

“We’re reaching out to other industry partners to do R&D,”Sipusic says.  “We’re meeting regularly with companies on how they can take our equipment and do their own research here.”

The 54,000-square-foot center is fully secure. So any company interested in performing research and development can be assured their intellectual property is protected.

At the Excellence Training Center, situated at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Commerce Street downtown, companies could make use of a robotics lab, CNC machining, 3D printing, metrology and other resources, Sipusic says.

So, too, can students as they pursue a path toward earning a degree or certification on some of this new equipment.

“We’re trying to cover a wide variety of advanced manufacturing,” Sipusic says. This includes industrial maintenance, CNC and traditional machining, additive manufacturing, robotics and automation.

“The learners are not just degree students. They’re also non-degree students – adult learners who are looking for another pathway or to upskill their current job,” he says.

MCCTC Adult Career Center Making Strides

The Mahoning County Career and Technical Center reports an increase in enrollment for the customized robotics training the school provides in partnership with the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition, says MCCTC adult career center supervisor Mary Mihalopoulos.

The Brain Gain robotics training story on upskilling local workers, published in May, has increased the awareness of local manufacturers, she reports.

Meanwhile, the technical training instructor program drew 12 candidates to attend the orientation, Mihalopoulos says. Nine candidates completed the course and are in the hiring process now to fill needed instructor positions.

There also is an increase in enrollment this September for the emergency medical technician, firefighter and automotive technology training programs, she says.

“Numbers are still to be determined with ongoing enrollment,” she says.

YWCA, Boys & Girls Club Awarded Grants

The YWCA of Mahoning Valley and the Boys & Girls Club of Youngstown received grant monies in July through the inaugural Enterprise Holdings’ ROAD Forward initiative. The program focuses on addressing early childhood development, youth health and wellness, and career and college preparation.

The YWCA will receive $7,500, which it will use to support its Discovery Place early education and learning center, Y Girls STEAM Ahead program for middle school girls and Young Women with Bright Futures program for high school students. The programs focus on social and racial equity gaps, says Leah Merritt, YWCA president and CEO.

“We are grateful and proud to partner with Enterprise Holdings,” Merritt says. “Partnerships such as these allow us to continue to focus on our mission of eliminating racism, empowering women and working towards equity.”

The Boys & Girls Club of Youngstown will use its $5,000 award to support its efforts to break down impediments to employment for young men and women, says CEO Jim Bird. One such impediment is preparing kids for getting their driver’s license, which the organization looks to address next year.

The club is also ramping up career exploration opportunities for its members and preparing them for job interviews.

Freshman Honors His Mentor by Donating Funds to Makers Club

As of Aug. 9, the Steve Bendel Jr. Ditch Digger Memorial Fund has raised $11,615 in memory of the late Steve Bendel Jr., who owned Bendel Excavating Inc.

Proceeds from the fund, started by Boardman High School freshman Frank Quinlan and his mother, Jenn, will be donated to the Boardman Makers Club at Boardman Glenwood Junior High School, the high school wood shop and the Mike Rowe Works Foundation.

Tim Harker and Frank Quinlan work with a 3D printer in the Makers Club lab.

Quinlan started the fund in honor of Bendel, his friend and mentor, who allowed him to work on job sites for BEI during summer breaks. As a member of the Boardman Makers Club, Quinlan is happy knowing that proceeds from the Bendel fund will plant the seed for more students to get that experience.

“It’s cool knowing that some kids might see this and say, ‘Oh, that’s kind of cool. I want to go try that,’ ” Quinlan says. “And even if they don’t like it, they tried it. So they know what they want to do.”

Interest in the Makers Club is strong. The club draws 35 to 40 students consistently, says instructor Tim Harker. Skills gained in the club are ideal for students looking to pursue STEM careers or just for learning life skills.

Harker looks to use the funds to restock the lab’s consumable materials, such as wood and fasteners.

Pictured at top: David Sipusic is the executive director of the Excellence Training Center.