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OSU-Lima Makes Engineers for Manufacturing a Priority

Expecting its first group of graduates in spring 2024, a new bachelor of science in engineering technology program at Ohio State University at Lima could improve the talent pipeline for area manufacturers.

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(TNS) — There's a demand for industrial engineers in the region, with an 11 percent growth projected in those jobs by 2026. Companies are hiring. They're just not finding much out there.

The Ohio State University-Lima campus hopes its new bachelor of science in engineering technology degree, which should have its first group of graduates in the spring of 2024, could be the answer.

"The best way for us to address this issue is to create a talent pipeline for engineers," said Timothy Rehner, the dean and director at OSU-Lima. "This particular program, the BSET, was developed in partnership with manufacturers. It focused on what they needed, that emphasized hands-on learning, a manufacturing focus."

Rehner explained the program and its accompanying workspace, the Engineering Education and Manufacturing Center at Ford Lima Engine Plant's Training Center, during a presentation to the Lima Rotary Club on Monday afternoon.

Partner companies already appreciate the program's approach, said Heather Rutz, a senior communications advisor at Cenovus Lima Refinery. The company contributes toward scholarship funding.

"It's very true for our place that students think they're getting a certain kind of degree, and then they get in there and they quickly learn what they didn't learn in school," Rutz said. "That hands-on component of this degree is really important for us."

The centerpiece for that hands-on training in the EEMC. It was originally built as a training center for Ford, with Rhodes State College providing training on once-cutting-edge technologies before they hit the manufacturer's floor. The renovated 40,000-square-foot center now has equipment similar to what area manufacturers might use.

"The students are learning how to troubleshoot things because they're understanding at every early point that as a production or manufacturing engineer, your job is to make sure that you continue to make things," said Lesley Fry, director of advancement at OSU-Lima. "If you're at Ford, that would be to make four engines every 60 seconds. If you don't hit that, you're losing money, so your job is to keep that line going, making it more efficient. It's the hands-on application, making them 21st-century ready."

The program will ideally graduate 35-plus students a year, although the pandemic limited some of the numbers when the program started in 2020. The program has about half that right now, but it's recruiting more, especially for students who can excel in calculus.

Rehnert said that manufacturers are ready for more industrial engineers, especially with Ford's new line on the way, General Dynamics is growing and continued need at Crown, Procter & Gamble and Rudolph Foods.

"The answer has been overwhelming: 'Yes, we need these kinds of people, and we need them today, not three years from now,'" he said.

©2022 The Lima News (Lima, Ohio). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.