Students at Southern State Community College, Shawnee State University, Hocking College, Rio Grande Community College, and Ohio University’s Main and Southern campuses will be able to enhance their education and job preparedness in several fields thanks to funding approved by the state Controlling Board to purchase state-of-the-art equipment.
Through partnerships with area businesses and higher education stakeholders, the campuses were able to secure funding as follows: Southern State, $419,647; Shawnee State, $81,780; Hocking, $162,000; Rio Grande, $142,640; and the Ohio University campuses, $168,933. Governor John Kasich and the legislature targeted $8 million in the state capital budget to assist Ohio’s public universities, community colleges, and career technical centers in providing the most up-to-date education possible in an effort to provide a skilled workforce for in-demand jobs.
The latest round of funding, which totals $5.3 million, will allow for the purchase of equipment in the fields of information technology, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, additive manufacturing, cloud manufacturing, smart business automation, and cybersecurity. The purchases are funded by the Ohio Department of Higher Education’s (ODHE) Regionally Aligned Priorities in Delivering Skills (RAPIDS) program.
Local business partners said the funding will help prepare students for in-demand jobs in the region.
“We support Shawnee State’s proposed acquisition of cybersecurity equipment to augment its new curriculum to educate students who are planning to enter this vitally important field,” said Randal M. Arnett, president and CEO of Southern Ohio Medical Center.
“Technology changes fast and Southern State does a great job of staying relevant,” said Matthew Keaton, data center operations technician with Amazon Web Services. “Its students learn skills that can and will be used in the workplace. (The RAPIDS equipment) is just the latest advancement in a continuous process of updating.”
“We are extremely interested in this (RAPIDS) initiative because of the pressing need to add value to our regional workforce through effective and professional continuous training,” said Linn Yost, president of Micro Machine Works, Inc.
ODHE Chancellor John Carey said the RAPIDS program has helped different regions in Ohio address their most pressing workforce needs while preparing traditional and nontraditional students for successful careers.
“When our schools collaborate to secure funding through the RAPIDS program, it gives students more opportunities to succeed while strengthening regional businesses and Ohio’s economy. It’s a win-win,” Chancellor Carey said.
The Ohio Department of Higher Education (formerly known as the Ohio Board of Regents) is a Cabinet-level agency for the Governor of the State of Ohio that oversees higher education for the state. The agency’s main responsibilities include authorizing and approving new degree programs, managing state-funded financial aid programs and developing and advocating policies to maximize higher education’s contributions to the state and its citizens.