By Denise Dick
Youngstown State University received a $874,000 grant to fund student manufacturing internships in Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana, Mercer and Lawrence counties.
The federal grant is through the West Central Job Partnership, a nonprofit job training and workforce development program in New Castle, Pa.
“We want to create a coordinated approach to internships in manufacturing throughout eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania,” said Stephen Rodabaugh, associate dean of the YSU College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
In 2007, the five counties were designated the country’s first workforce investment area by former Govs. Ted Strickland of Ohio and Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania.
“Northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania share a border, common labor force, worker dislocations, current and emerging industries, and a common vision to enhance economic and workforce development,” the request for proposals for the grant says.
Rodabaugh said YSU plans to work with other higher-education institutions including Eastern Gateway Community College, Butler County Community College and Kent State University-Trumbull as well as career technical centers in the five counties.
Objectives are to expand the number of manufacturing work/study and internship opportunities in the five counties, enhance students’ educational experiences through quality professional work placements, and assist manufacturers in their recruitment efforts through access to interested and qualified students.
Last year, YSU received a $575,000 grant from the Ohio Board of Regents to fund a new internship and co-op program in the STEM fields and business fields such as accounting, finance, management and marketing.
But that grant is just for establishing internships and co-ops at businesses in Ohio.
“It does not go across the border,” Rodabaugh said. “This federal grant goes across the border with a regional approach.”
Part of the project involves creation of an online internship matching system for students, manufacturers and educational institutions.
One long-term goal of the program is to forge relationships between universities and employers, allowing opportunities for mutual research between companies and faculty members, Rodabaugh said.
The short-term beneficiaries of that are students who gain experience and manufacturing companies that build their workforce, he said.