RAMTEC: Robotics, A Path to Employment & Economic Development
Scott Gould is one of eight high school students on the planet to be certified by a leading robotics manufacturer. He has a great job lined up with Honda which will pay for his postsecondary education. When he graduates from college he is more likely to graduate with $100,000 in his pocket rather than $100,000 in student loans. This education success story is being repeated at RAMTEC in Marion, OH an hour north of Columbus.
With most community colleges avoiding manufacturer specific certifications, degree earners are not graduating with employable skills. Tri-Rivers Career Center superintendent Charles Speelman recognized the skills gap and created RAMTEC, a robotics and advanced manufacturing technology education collaborative with a commitment to providing the most current educational experiences possible.
Given Speelman’s willingness to create training partnerships, RAMTEC is able to offer high school students, community college students, and adult workers some of the most current job training in the country. The career center is now a national training provider for two robotics manufacturers.
Ready for Real Jobs. Getting Smart visited RAMTEC while attending the TRECA Next Gen Educators Symposium last week—both great examples of responsive learning leadership.
RAMTEC is a recent addition to the Tri-Rivers Career Center which serves nine high schools in three counties with nine career pathways. The RAMTEC foyer is filled with pictures of the history of Marion and the innovations they’re famous for. Students spend half of their day in academics courses to learn core high school curriculum then spend the other half of their day training in robotics, welding, and manufacturing.
Students program the latest robots from FANUC and Yaskawa Motoman–sometimes side by side with an adult worker updating his/her skills. They learn to use a Lincoln welder through virtual simulation. They tear down robots and put them together to learn pneumatics and hydraulics. RAMTEC graduates are ready to step into good paying jobs and continue learning advanced skills. RAMTEC is also at the forefront of additive manufacturing (3D printing). Students learn to design and create parts in CAD software.
Collective Impact. You won’t find the same level of robotics on most college campuses in the country. What’s the secret? Our friends at Strive Together in Cincinnati would call it collective impact (one of the 7 keys featured in Smart Cities). Chuck Spellman just calls it partnership.
It started when local manufacturers told Speelman they wouldn’t hire his graduates—they’d rather hire someone with no training rather than the wrong training. Speelman then toured top manufacturing plants around the country to find out what equipment they were using. He found companies in Ohio sending workers to Alabama for training and that did it. He met with executives at Honda, Mitsubishi, Parker Hannifin and others to talk about the importance of investing in education and the benefits that they’d receive from their investment. Training high school students on the world’s best and most used machines would mean a better workforce ready for a career in the manufacturing and technology industry.
An interesting characteristic of RAMTEC is how this career center seamlessly combines high school, community college and adult training. During the day and most evenings, RAMTEC opens up their training center for companies to send their employees for training or for community members to get certifications in order to find work. The training includes robotic welding, robotic material handling, hydraulics and pneumatics and metal fabrication—a great way to use the space creatively and bring in new revenue.
Many days visitors see a high school student working together or even training a working adult on how to operate the machines. Students are learning soft skills and are making real world connections that will help them beyond high school.
New Path. Our new blog series GenDIY features young people taking control of their own pathway to careers they love–students at RAMTEC are a great example. Many will have their pick of jobs and some will have sponsored opportunities to continue their learning.
Scott Gould, a senior from a local high school who currently attends RAMTEC full-time plans upon graduation to attend nearby Marion Technical College and work part-time at Honda through a co-op which will pay for his education. When asked about his time at RAMTEC, Scott says he’s never thought about going back to his traditional high school and appreciates the hands-on learning and the passion his instructors show towards students and their learning. Scott has viewed RAMTEC as his “opportunity to do more with life” and has a goal to one day come back and help teach students.
Jeff Martin, also a senior, spends a lot of time focused on robotics and writing code. We asked him if he had competed in Vex Robotics Competitions, he said, “Yeah, I’ve won five.” He can write hundreds of lines of robotics code in minutes. Jeff’s passion and excitement for the work he’s doing at school is evident. Jeff showed us the latest robots that have a camera and use vision in order to pick and sort different colored pills or other objects.
RAMTEC is a remarkable school doing great things for central Ohio. Their students are engaged, they have buy in from community members and large companies and are graduating students that are more than college and career ready. They have a model that many communities and states could use to implement a similar educational experience for their students and are exemplifying next-gen learning.
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