Additional funding to boost technology offerings at Ivy Tech

More than $1 million earmarked for industrial technology equipment

Rodni Lytle Dean, School of Technology Ivy Tech Kokomo Region

Rodni Lytle
Dean, School of Technology
Ivy Tech Kokomo Region

KOKOMO, Ind. — Ivy Tech Community College is earmarking more than $1 million in additional expenditures this year to upgrade equipment and curriculum in the Kokomo region. The equipment will support careers in areas of advanced manufacturing, mechanical, electrical, and robotics.

“Ivy Tech’s State Board of Trustees has approved a very significant investment to help prepare students to meet the growing needs of regional employers seeking a skilled workforce,” said Rodni Lytle, dean of the School of Technology for Ivy Tech’s Kokomo Region. “Based on discussions with industry leaders, state and local economic development organizations and our community/industry advisory boards, we know upgrading our facilities, equipment and curriculum will allow our students to get both the technical and hands-on skills expected by employers.”

The 2015-16 budget request recently approved for the Ivy Tech Kokomo Region includes funding to boost the industrial technology and advanced automation and robotics programs, as well as to support Ivy Tech’s partnership with FCA US (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ United States operations).

“Starting this fall, we are adding new equipment and modularized computer-based training to facilitate classroom and lab-based learning activities in the School of Technology programs,” Lytle said. “Among their benefits, the new purchases will give students the opportunity to work towards earning their Certified Production Technician (CPT) credential and to practice their skills on web-based learning modules. We believe this will be an advantage for both working adults and current high school students who are using similar learning programs at work or in school.”

Lytle noted that School of Technology programs are set up to support returning adult students as well as recent high school graduates, with day and evening classes and pathways for full- and part-time students.

A portion of the additional funding is targeted to purchase equipment to support implementation of the Kokomo Region’s new 75-credit-hour Advanced Automation and Robotics Technology (AART) degree. With classes starting this fall, the AART degree was developed with input from the Indiana Automotive Council, a group of world-class employers including Cummins, Subaru, FCA, General Motors, Aisin USA and Honda.

“The new degree is designed to maximize student learning and results, with students studying in a ‘cohort’ group with opportunities for internships coupled with applied classroom education – much like a more traditional apprenticeship program,” Lytle said. “The goal is to prepare students for exciting and potentially high-paying careers in advanced manufacturing.”

In the AART program, students will be exposed to programmable logic controllers (PLC), both Allen Bradley- and Siemens-based, along with electrical and electronics training and a focus on trouble-shooting, critical thinking and communication. “These are vital skills that employers value,” Lytle said. “The skills learned in the AART program can bring new graduates to the top of hiring lists and will allow employees to move up into higher-responsibility, higher-paying positions.”

Lytle said the equipment to be purchased will support training in electronics, electrical systems, mechanical drive and power systems, hydraulic and pneumatic systems, welding, and troubleshooting systems. Shift laser alignment and predictive maintenance vibration learning systems will be added along with a significant investment in computer numeric controlled (CNC) and wire electrical discharge machining (EDM) equipment to support training in the latest machine tool technologies.

Among other upgrades is the addition of a virtual welder, allowing students in Ivy Tech Kokomo’s welding program a high-tech simulator that advances development of hand-eye motor coordination skills and teaches proper welding techniques. As students move through the many nationally recognized levels of AWS (America Welding Society) certifications offered at Ivy Tech, they will be able to evaluate their welding skills against known standards and make corrections and improve their skill sets using the virtual welder.

Lytle noted the College also continues to invest significantly in the heavy duty truck and diesel program as it expands training to meet the increased demand for skilled technicians in heavy diesel truck repair. “We will be adding alignment diagnostic equipment and a broad ranges of specific hand tools designed specifically for OTR (over-the-road) trucks,” Lytle said. “All this complements the extensive array of equipment already available in the program.”

In addition to creating a robust technology lab, the College has invested heavily in redesigning courses supporting technology-based degrees. As an example, Lytle cited the “Work-based Communications” course introduced into all Ivy Tech technology-based degree pathways that includes the “soft skills” many employers seek in prospective employees.

“This course focuses on developing workplace communication skills for students in programs within Ivy Tech’s School of Technology,” Lytle said. “Students explore different characteristics of communication in different workplace settings, including barriers to effective communication. They examine and practice strategies for listening critically, building functional interpersonal work relationships, communicating in groups, and enhancing self-expression. By taking a very practical approach to understanding human communication, students can increase their workplace as well as their personal communication capabilities.”

Lytle added, “Our goal is to offer the training in both hard and soft skills that will prepare area residents to fill high-tech jobs in manufacturing, service and sales. The new equipment and materials we are purchasing with these additional funds will bring opportunities to our students and employees of local business and industry.”

For more information on Ivy Tech’s Industrial Technology programs, contact Lytle at 765-459-0561, ext. 7545, or at rlytle5@ivytech.edu .

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About Ivy Tech Kokomo Region

Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo Region serves Cass, Fulton, Howard, Miami, and Tipton counties and includes campuses or instructional sites in the communities of Kokomo, Logansport, Peru, and Rochester. Ivy Tech serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering affordable degree programs and training that are aligned with the needs of its community along with courses and programs that transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association. For more information, visit www.ivytech.edu.
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