New degree program responding to needs of Ohio manufacturers

Posted: March 18, 2021

A new bachelor’s degree program that launched last fall on The Ohio State University’s regional campuses is preparing students to excel as business-oriented engineering leaders in the highly automated manufacturing industry.

“We need to listen very attentively to Ohio businesses in order to create the workforce they need and to get our students ready for emerging opportunities,” said Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson. “It was the advice from Ohio manufacturers, for example, that led us to create a new engineering technology degree program with an emphasis on advanced manufacturing at three regional campuses and expanding to a fourth campus soon.”

An engineering technology student talks to a mentor during a company visit.
An industry mentor talks to an engineering technology student during her visit to Charter Next Generation near Mansfield.

Forty-nine students enrolled in the new program during its first year, with enrollment expected to grow 55% next year.

In partnership with the College of Engineering, the bachelor of science in engineering technology (BSET) with a concentration in manufacturing is offered on the LimaMansfield and Marion campuses. The program will expand to the Newark campus beginning autumn 2023.

A resurgence of manufacturing, Ohio’s largest economic sector, has increased demand for college graduates with a combination of skills in engineering, manufacturing and technology. The engineering technology degree program prepares students to excel as the advanced manufacturing leaders of tomorrow in roles such as process engineer, manufacturing engineer, operational excellence team member, operations supervisor and process improvement leader.

Ohio’s manufacturing industry not only provided the Ohio Manufacturing Institute, the BSET program organizer, with critical input on the program’s curriculum, but more than a dozen local companies have served as mentors who provide hands-on learning opportunities beginning with students’ first semester in the program.

“A program like this emphasizes the dedication of The Ohio State University to provide a work-ready pool of talented men and women able to think critically and solve complex problems,” said Robinson Fin Machines Vice President Mark Haushalter, a program mentor. “This degree program is another step toward providing career-ready graduates prepared for Ohio’s workforce—and beyond—and that is something all employers welcome.”

During their first semester, students take two courses that provide firsthand experience in advanced manufacturing technologies and processes. ENGRTEC 1200: Intro to Engineering Technology pairs student groups with a local industry mentor, enabling students to learn professional skills directly from industry experts and visit their mentors’ companies to learn about their roles.

“I have really enjoyed the hands-on aspect of the BSET program. I find it engaging and it helps link the class material to real-life situations,” said first-year engineering technology student Amanda Becker. “Another great thing about the program is how it helps students network with local businesses, something very important to me considering I am planning to live and work locally.”

In ENGRTEC 1500: Manufacturing Processes 1, students learn about manufacturing processes and technologies in class before visiting companies to see their real-world applications.

“The mentorship was a good experience for students and mentor. I wish there was something like this when I was in college,” said Chris Sentman, plant engineer at POET Biorefining in Marion. “All things considered, year one was a success and set a strong foundation for the program to excel.”

The program’s integrative curriculum was developed by a multidisciplinary team of engineering, science, math and physics faculty. It exposes students to a variety of engineering technology fields and provides training in systems-based thinking and problem solving, proficiency in professional communication and business terminology, and continuous improvement.

A tank is visible in the background as an engineer gestures while talking to an Ohio State student.
Industry mentor Brian Westfield talks to an engineering technology student during his visit to General Dynamics Lands Systems in Lima.

“It’s been very exciting to learn about the various backgrounds, interests and experiences of the students coming into the BSET program,” said BSET faculty member Amber Rader, a computer science lecturer at Ohio State Mansfield. “I am confident that we are preparing these students to fill many different engineering and leadership voids that manufacturers in Ohio are facing.”

By combining hands-on learning, Ohio manufacturers’ expertise, an integrative curriculum and the ability for Buckeyes to study where they live and want to launch their careers, the engineering technology degree program is already proving to be a success.

“The engineering technology program at Ohio State is developing their engineers to be leaders and future managers,” said Brian Westfield, section manager of manufacturing engineering at General Dynamics Lands Systems in Lima. “Which is important, because you need people that are technically sound, who know the product and the process, to lead the next generation of engineers.”

by Candi Clevenger, College of Engineering Communications, 

Categories: CollegeStudents