YSU to Offer Manufacturing Engineering Program

CANFIELD, Ohio – Youngstown State University is poised to offer a new program in manufacturing engineering as soon as this fall, members of the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition learned today.

The program would focus on “the processes of making things,” said Darrell Wallace, a YSU assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering. Only 20 such degree programs exist, he reported at MVMC’s quarterly general membership meeting at the Mahoning County Career & Technical Center.

The program has elements of mechanical and industrial engineering “because manufacturing is the roots of both of those,” he explained.

“As other programs in engineering have kind of moved away from their manufacturing roots, we’ve lost the core skills in manufacturing processes.” Wallace remarked.

With the onset of new digital manufacturing technologies, “It’s becoming more important that we have people who can make good decisions about how to apply those processes [and] how to integrate them into existing manufacturing enterprises,” he continued

The four-year program “will address the hands-on application needs our manufacturers value in engineers,” said Jessica Borza, MVMC’s executive director. “It will be the most appropriate fit for a lot of our students who are coming out of technical and community college programs so they can continue their career pathway into a four-year degree.”

The need goes beyond the Mahoning Valley, Borza noted. Manufacturers at a meeting she attended Thursday in Columbus questioned what happened to manufacturing engineer programs, she reported. “The manufacturers said that’s the skill set they need that would be most valuable,” she remarked.

The new program has gone through internal development and assessment by YSU faculty. Next it will be presented to the university’s board of trustees for approval.

“At that point we will go to the state of Ohio for final approval,” he continued. “Once we get that, we’ll start offering the program.”

Wallace also told MVMC members and guests about a $700,000 Regionally Aligned Priorities in Delivering Skills – or Rapids – grant to support advanced manufacturing. The Ohio Controlling board approved the grant Monday.

The grant will provide “critical instructional equipment” for YSU, regional career and technical centers and other partners who will share access. It will mostly be machining equipment, along with support equipment for welding and robotics, Wallace said.

Meanwhile, this fall MVMC will launch its first common group apprenticeship program focused on manufacturing. “We’ve been talking to manufacturers about the value of apprenticeships” but expressed the view they were too small to have an apprenticeship, Borza said.

The coalition brought together small and medium-sized manufacturers that have similar training needs to identify skill competency needs and create a common program, she explained.

Demand among manufacturers was greatest for apprenticeships in machining and industrial maintenance. “We’re starting with machining but then quickly thereafter we’ll be creating a group apprenticeship for industrial maintenance,” she said.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Labor awarded a $2.9 million grant for a 17-county manufacturing apprenticeship program led by MVMC and the West Central Job Partnership in New Castle, Pa. The funds are to be used to help manufacturers see the value of apprenticeships and to provide technical support.

MVMC is providing $6,000 per apprentice for each new program and $3,000 per apprentice for existing ones to offset manufacturers’ costs.

“We have had great response and great interest from our manufacturers,” she said.

At the meeting, the coalition awarded its first scholarship to Kevin Gentile, who is graduating from Salem High School. The $1,000 scholarship will help Gentile pay to continue his career education in MCCTC’s welding certification program.

“My prediction is you’ll be in the workplace, making money and gainfully employed and enjoying what you’re doing much sooner than a lot of your classmates,” Brian Benyo, MVMC’s president, said after presenting the award certificate.

Pictured: Darrell Wallace.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.