East High Launches Advanced Manufacturing Program

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Starting in January, students at East High School are participating in an advanced manufacturing pilot program that is available at just two other sites across the country.

The new curriculum, called Ignite: Mastering Manufacturing, is the result of a partnership between Youngstown-based America Makes, Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow, or Lift, in Detroit and the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute in Chicago.

“This was created by these three institutes to create a new way of thinking about not just manufacturing, but all of the careers related to it,” says Eileen Pickett, Lift program manager for education and workforce development. “We can develop all the technology that we want, but we know if we don’t have the people, the talent, that are ready for the jobs of the future that technology is creating, then we might as well not develop the technology in the first place.”

Lift and the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute DMDII) are sister hubs of America Makes. The three institutes were created by the Obama administration as part of its Manufacturing USA initiative, which established 14 advanced manufacturing institutes at select sites across the country.
America Makes, the first of these hubs, focuses on additive manufacturing, while Lift centers its attention on the research, development and applications of lightweight metals. DMDII concentrates on digital applications in manufacturing.

The East High program is a three-year curriculum that includes work in materials science during the first year, and coursework in advanced manufacturing systems during the second and third years.

Students will receive hands-on experience with equipment such as programmable controllers, computer-aided design software and 3D printers.

Rob Gorham, executive director of America Makes, says he’s seen projections that over the next decade, the advanced manufacturing market would represent a $100 trillion opportunity for the economy. In 3D printing alone, that means the creation of about 3 million jobs.

“There’s a skills gap that exists,” he says. “It’s about finding ways to drive resiliency into our manufacturing base here.”

Youngstown City Schools superintendent Joe Meranto says he first heard about the program at a conference several months ago, and suggested that Youngstown should pursue it

“We have 20 students already signed up for the first course,” Meranto says. “We’ll continue to expand it to the two courses next year and look at moving it to Chaney High School to provide the opportunity to those students as well.”

The objective is to introduce students to the skills that will be necessary to pursue the jobs of the future, Meranto explains. “The jobs are here, they’re going to be here, but they’re going to be different jobs,” he says.

The new lab will be equipped with simulators, 3D printers, programmable control boards and a computer room next door.

“When you look at machines like this, you realize that this is the future of manufacturing,” says Krish Mohip, CEO of Youngstown City Schools. “The manufacturing skills we must have are those to program and code and really get behind these machines.”

Youngstown is the third school district in the country to adopt the Ignite program. The other two are in Sterling, Mich., and Waukegan, Ill.

“They’re choosing Youngstown because they see the promise that’s here,” Mohip says, crediting the advanced manufacturing foundation established with America Makes, Youngstown State University and Choffin Career and Technical Center.

Damico Jackson, an 11th grader at East High, says he’s interested in the program because it opens up an entirely new perspective on industry and manufacturing.

“I like how it’s bringing new things to the area,” he says. “It brings a nice reputation to Youngstown. I hope to learn as much as I can and get to use it in my life.”

Omar Frazier, a ninth grader, says he’s excited about this program since it’s his goal to pursue a career in computer engineering and video game design. “This would be a good step forward to get into that,” he says. “I want to learn mostly how to code.”

Frazier is already programming robots and writes his own games on a home-based program, but now wants to position himself for college, possibly at YSU. “I’d like to get a name for myself and make a better future for everybody.”

Copyright 2018 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.