YSU wins grant to equip Mahoning Valley Innovation and Commercialization Center

Youngstown State University has been awarded a $636,751 state RAPIDS award to purchase state-of-the-art equipment for industrial maintenance training programs in the Mahoning Valley Innovation and Commercialization Center now under development in downtown Youngstown.

The Ohio Department of Higher Education announced that YSU will receive the grant from the Regionally Aligned Priorities in Delivering Skills program.

The training equipment will benefit students at YSU, Eastern Gateway Community College and county career and technical centers, as well as area manufacturers, said Mike Hripko, YSU associate vice president of Research.

“The focus of this effort is providing training for workers who will be responsible for keeping our expensive and highly sophisticated advanced manufacturing equipment maintained, up to date and running,” he said.

MVICC is now under development in a building at the corner of Fifth Avenue and West Commerce Street in downtown Youngstown, formerly owned by Mahoning County. The state has proposed $4 million in capital funding for the center in 2019-20, in addition to $3 million in state capital allocations in 2018-19. YSU has also received $1 million from the Appalachian Regional Commission and $2 million from the U.S. Department of Economic Development for the project. The university will raise an additional $14 million through an ongoing capital campaign led by the YSU Foundation.

The center is a partnership that includes YSU, Eastern Gateway, county career and technical centers, Youngstown Business Incubator, America Makes, Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center, regional economic development organizations and the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition. It will be a shared resource training center designed to become a hub of workforce development, innovation and research, particularly focused on advanced manufacturing. In addition, the center will include all academic disciplines and innovation of all kinds, serving the entrepreneurial future of the Mahoning Valley.

Hripko credited Darrell Wallace, YSU associate professor of Manufacturing Engineering, for his leadership in obtaining the RAPIDS grant.

“This award is part of YSU’s ongoing strategy of sharing high-value assets across multiple institutions to eliminate redundancy, mitigate costs, and maximize students’ exposure to industrial quality equipment,” Wallace said. “The Ohio Department of Higher Education has been very supportive of this strategy as their continued funding suggests.”

Wallace will be working with Brian Vuksanovich, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering Technology, and individuals at Eastern Gateway and the Mahoning and Trumbull county career and technical center on the RAPIDS initiative.

“The regional commitment to collaboration around manufacturing is real and is benefitting from the much-needed support of a program like RAPIDS,” said Brian Benyo, president of the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition. “The proposed equipment will expand upon the machining training capabilities of the region.”

Among the equipment included in the grant are trainers from Amatrol, one of the world’s leader in skills-based, interactive technical learning; a CNC certification cart; a BGA and SMD rework and repair station; a protolaser; and a collaborative industry robot.