UC East holds manufacturing summit at Manufacturing and Technology Center

University of Cincinnati Clermont College Dean Gregory Sojka talks about the manufacturing program at UC East March 5. The college hosted a manufacturing summit at the new Manufacturing Technology Center.

University of Cincinnati Clermont College Dean Gregory Sojka talks about the manufacturing program at UC East March 5. The college hosted a manufacturing summit at the new Manufacturing Technology Center.
By Kristin Bednarski
Sun staff

University of Cincinnati’s UC East held a manufacturing summit March 5 to showcase their program to manufacturing companies in the area.

The summit was held at the new Manufacturing Technology Center at UC East and featured several stations that explained the program’s capabilities, training schedules and more.

Stations included information about customized training, summer boot camps, certificates and degree options, finance training and education, and more.

“Our goal for the manufacturing center is to become a training and education hub for southwest Ohio with its ideal location and state-of-the-art equipment,” UC Clermont Dean Gregory Sojka said in a release. “We are proud to play a role in the manufacturing rebound for a state once known for its manufacturing prowess.”

Dean Sojka attended the summit and welcomed individuals from several manufacturing companies, including Huhtamaki, a manufacturing company that recently purchased space neighboring UC East at the former Ford plant.

Sojka said it was thanks to a $250,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission that UC East was able to purchase much of the equipment in the manufacturing center.

“We were able to match the grant and purchase equipment,” Sojka said.

Dexter Hulse, the associate professor of the computer aided design program at UC East, said the equipment funded by the grant is some of the most recent manufacturing equipment on the market.

Hulse said they also have several older, conventional machines that were donated by local companies.

“That helped us get started,” Hulse said. “And getting the grant put everything in place.”

Hulse said having the equipment enables students to learn the computer skills to operate the equipment as well as visually understand how the equipment works.

“We start teaching them on the conventional machines and then we move them to the computer machines,” Hulse said.

Hulse said they teach a variety of classes in the manufacturing program including

computer aided design, computer aided manufacturing, lean manufacturing, and more.

“There is a huge demand for these skill sets,” Hulse said about manufacturing skills.

He said many companies, including companies in Clermont County are looking for individuals with these specific skills, and salaries start at around $40,000 for these jobs.

Caitlin Hutzel, a Loveland resident who is in the manufacturing program, said she decided to be a part of the program after graduating from the Design Architecture Art and Planning Program.

“The whole industry is moving toward computer-aided design,” Hutzel said. “If you have the skills you’re always guaranteed a job.”

Hutzel said she started in the fall and thinks the program is great.

“I am learning a lot of skills,” Hutzel said. “They will really help with job placement.”

Zach Miller, a student in the program who drives from Dayton, said he has a degree in history.

“It wasn’t getting me anything,” Miller said about finding a job.

Miller said he knew that he also enjoyed computer design and modeling, and he decided to pursue the manufacturing program after visiting UC East.

“I was really excited when I had the idea to do it,” Miller said about beginning the program. “I am more excited now because this is what I want to do.”

Dean Sojka said the goal of the program at UC East is to prepare students for jobs with companies that are in the area.

He said to do that they must work with the companies and know what skills they need their employees to have.

The school already works closely with Cincinnati Milacron and other local companies.

Sojka said they would like to a develop a relationship with Huhtamaki now that they will be in the former Ford plan.

“I want to train his employees,” Sojka said about Richard Mills, director of operations for Huhtamaki, who attended the summit.

For more information about University of Cincinnati’s UC East, or the manufacturing program at UC East, visit www.uclermont.edu.