In the third round of Straight A Grants by the Ohio Department of Education, Tri-Rivers Career Center was the lead district in a consortium which was awarded six grants of $1 million each to expand robotics and advanced manufacturing by replicating the Marion RAMTEC (Robotics and Advanced Manufacturing Technology Education Collaborative) in an additional 12 career centers. Earlier through the second round of Straight A Grants, 8 additional RAMTECs were created.
The recent additional RAMTEC sites include: Ashland County-West Holmes JVSD, Mahoning County Career and Technical Center, Mid-East Career and Technology Center, Lawrence County, Pickaway-Ross JVSD, US Grant CTPD, Delaware Area Career Center, Southern Hills, Vantage Career Center, Warren County CTC, EHOVE Career Center, Wayne County JVSD. Scioto County Career Technical Center also received a separate grant to create a RAMTEC for a total of 22 RAMTECs in Ohio.
“Business and Industry do not have the skilled workers needed to upgrade and automate,” said Chuck Speelman, Tri-Rivers superintendent. “These additional grants will help to replicate the success of what we are doing with RAMTEC in Marion, Ohio. Our best practices will be used by these additional career centers to expand advanced manufacturing career-technical learning opportunities in robotics for 6th grade through 16th grade.”
Ritch Ramey, as the RAMTEC Ohio Coordinator, is responsible for the development and coordination of the training programs at Tri-Rivers RAMTEC and the additional 22 RAMTECs made possible through Straight A Grants. “Because of the grants, elementary, middle school, high school, college, adults and incumbent workers have or will have access to credentialed courses in such industrial training programs as those developed by FANUC Robotics and CNC, Yaskawa Motoman, Parker Hydraulics, Rockwell Allen-Bradley Programmable Logic Controls (PLC) and Mitsubishi PLCs.”
RAMTEC on the Tri-Rivers Campus serves as the training center for all of the instructors of the additional RAMTECs providing the professional development needed to make the initiative successful. “As RAMTEC expands throughout the state, we will continue to enhance the training at RAMTEC here in Marion, making Marion the “Home for Robotics Education” in Ohio and the nation,” said Ramey. “The success of RAMTEC in Marion relies on highly motivated and skilled training staff, numerous partnerships we have developed, as well as the grants we have received.”
“Ohio Means Jobs has estimated that there is a 60,000 manufacturing gap in Ohio currently,” said Ramey. “Our RAMTEC mission is to help alleviate that gap by creating a seamless pathway that will allow students throughout Ohio hands-on exposure to high tech equipment starting in the 6th grade.”
Ramey said through Vex Robotics contests and camps, as well as trailer-based exploration programs, we have created an education outreach that reaches into the 144 schools that feed our Career Tech centers. “The Straight A Grants provide state of the art equipment and education technology so our students can earn industrial credentials before they leave high school.”
The grants also provide for training the teachers from each of the additional RAMTEC sites in robotics, PLCs, Hydraulics, Pneumatics, CNC and Vex robotics. “Each Career Center is linked to two and four year colleges in which students can earn college credit while in high school. While middle school students can gain exposure through the Arduino Sparkfun Inventor Kits (SIK), Vex Robotics, camps, competitions, and tours.”
“Our team of professionals have developed and assisted with Vex Robotics camps throughout Ohio this year. With the new grants, this initiative will continue to grow exposing thousands of young people to this ultimate STEM activity for middle school and high school students,” said Ramey.
“We also host several activities for elementary students, including the upcoming Invention Convention competition to be held at RAMTEC at Tri-Rivers Saturday, February 20,” said Ramey. “RAMTEC is opening doors for young people to use problem solving and critical thinking to develop their skills and to receive real world certifications and training that will lead them to high paying skilled positions.”
Speelman said because of Marion’s RAMTEC on the Tri-Rivers campus, “Jobs are coming to this area.” For example, Union Tank Car was able to expand because of the training provided through RAMTEC. “Tri-Rivers RAMTEC has also provided robotics, CNC and Automation training for employees companies including Bridgestone, US Yachiyo, Marion Industries, American Showa, MTD, PPG, Whirlpool, Nucor, FT Precision, and Honda.”
The Straight A Grant funds are for middle school through college; however, adult learners and incumbent workers also benefit greatly from the RAMTEC expansion, concluded Speelman.