New Philadelphia, Ohio - Kent State University at Tuscarawas officials are working to ensure that financial barriers are no longer an obstacle for the next generation of engineering and manufacturing workers.
Engineering Technology Director Paul Dykshoorn says the campus is preparing to launch a new Rising Manufacturing Scholars Program for select Tuscarawas County middle-schoolers. He says those students who stick with the program through high school will earn a tuition-free education at any of Kent State’s regional campuses.
"The idea is to capture them at a young age. They don’t squander those high school years, and by the time they graduate from high school, they’re either employed and listed in the military or enrolled in college," he says. "Our hope and the carrot that we’re holding out to those students is if they complete the program when they graduate from high school, we give them a free ride."
Dykshoorn says the program will launch with the start of the 2019-2020 school year with a handful of students from two or three school districts. He says they will be bringing other districts on board in the coming years, with the goal of making the program available throughout Tuscarawas County.
"We’re going to start small. We’re going to start with a handful of schools, a handful of middle schools at the start. The idea is to grow the program so we get students from every school district," he says.
Dykshoorn says they will initially be using grant money to get the initiative off the ground, although he says they will be calling on area manufacturers to pitch in to help them grow and sustain the program.
"If we go to like, for instance, Indian Valley, maybe there’s companies in Gnaden that could fund the program. If we go up to Garaway, maybe there’s companies up in that area that would fund the program, so that’s the goal for the funding of the program," he explains.
Dykshoorn says they hope this program will create an incentive for students to take advantage of the educational and employment opportunities available in Tuscarawas County.
"We’re talking seventh-graders on up that are going to be exposed to things in the manufacturing world in their area. We’re going to encourage those kinds of students to stay in the area, that this is a place that they want to stay and raise their family," he says.
The program is part of the Multi-County Advanced Manufacturing Corridor initiative spearheaded by area educational institutions and economic and workforce development agencies. Dykshoorn says that initiative has been awarded nearly $450,000 in grants to date to buy new training equipment for Kent Tusc and Buckeye Career Center.