Ohio Competition Takes Students Inside Advanced Manufacturing

Manufacturing is important to Ohio’s economy — accounting for more than 16 percent of the state’s output and employing approximately 700,000 individuals. With the industry facing dwindling numbers, a STEM learning and competition platform is coming to the Buckeye State to spark student interest in advanced manufacturing and encourage them to explore advanced manufacturing careers.

The MakerMinded digital platform will connect Ohio students to advanced manufacturing learning experiences that emphasize problem- and project-based learning. Teachers and students can sign up to find activities, like an assembly line virtual reality (VR) game. Schools can rack up points for completing activities and see how they compare against other schools on the platform’s leaderboard. Top ranking schools have a chance to win big prizes like the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.

By gamifying the experience, the platform hopes “to get students excited about STEM-related careers early in their educational paths, especially opportunities in the advanced manufacturing field,” according to its site. The goal is to get 100 middle and high school students signed-up and active on the platform.

It is a collaborative effort between the Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT), a national manufacturing institute; Battelle, a STEM research and development organization; and iCube, an educational resource and research facility at Tennessee Tech University. LIFT and iCube — along with the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation — previously launched MakerMinded in Tennessee, which to-date has attracted more than 100 schools and 1,000 active users. They also rolled out the platform to Kentucky students. This time around, they are enlisting help from Battelle to drive the Ohio state roll-out process, which plans to recruit students through the Ohio STEM Learning Network representing 35 STEM schools in the state.

“Manufacturers across the country lament a widening skills gap — which is projected to leave 2.5 million jobs unfilled over the next decade if we don’t act now to engage and prepare a skilled workforce,” said Emily DeRocco, director of education and workforce at LIFT, in a prepared statement. “MakerMinded is a game-changing strategy that has the potential to re-write the future of not only manufacturing, but also today’s young students, who need the inspiration, experiences and skills to pursue meaningful careers.”

To learn more, watch the video below or visit the MakerMinded site.

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].