GEORGETOWN – “I told you guys I would be coming back with good news, and I am glad I did,” Southern Hills Superintendent Kevin Kratzer told the Brown County Commissioners during their March 2 meeting.
Kratzer appeared before the Commissioners to tell them of a grant award that Southern Hills won as part the Straight A Fund from the state. Robotics Advanced Manufacturing Technology Education Collaborative, or RAMTEC gives Southern Hills $500,000 to purchase equipment for expansion in advanced manufacturing.
The new equipment will be used in several classes at Southern Hills through most of their programs and more importantly the adult education program. According to a press release by Southern Hills “RAMTEC offers adult, college and high school students the opportunity to work hands-on with the latest automation on the market. Upon completion of the program, students become certified which opens the doors for continuing education or immediate employment in advanced manufacturing.”
In the first round of the Straight A Grant the funds stayed north of the Cincinnati region with the exception of the Great Oaks System, the largest Career and Technical School in the country. Kratzer said the rest of the RAMTEC money went north of I-70 and along I-75. Now, Southern Hills was awarded in the second go around for $500,000.
“We kind of said we deserve this too,” Krazter said. “So we were able to get it on the next go-around.”
The program will allow Southern Hills to better train adults in advanced manufacturing with not only their local partners such as X-Mil, Milacron, and Stanley, but Krazter hopes it attracts other businesses to the area to see that employee training is available in Brown County. The adult education side of Southern Hills now has a real asset in employee training.
“I think because it (RAMTEC) is so recognized by business and industry as important and needed right now, where as high school kids are well high school kids, you have to wait on them for a year or two,” Kratzer said. “This is something we can take to your business and train not only your current employee base but we can run the training at our place for prospective employees and have the training in much shorter segments, six to eight weeks, and have you a certified worker.”
The money from the grant will be used to purchase state of the art equipment to help train employees to new industry standards in manufacturing. The types of equipment include FANUC and Motoman Robotics and Stem Cart, a CNC Milling Cart and simulator, Allen Bradley PLC’s, and a Lincoln Electric Realweld Robotics Trainer. Southern Hills hopes to use the RAMTEC lab as part to certify students in their existing programs at the high school level as well.
Overall the RAMTEC lab will add 17 different certifications for both high school and adult students in the realm of advanced manufacturing. But Krazter knows that not only is a trained workforce important, but other skills as well to fit the needs of the business community.
“The technical side is what this (RAMTEC) would address,” Kratzer said. “Something we embed not only in the high school side but the adult side is that soft skill side: showing up on time, dress appropriately, passing a drug test – those are all soft skills that will no matter how much you know want matter if you don’t know the soft skill side.”
The biggest hurdle in adult education for Southern Hills may be the cost of attendance but that could soon change. Southern Hills is currently going through an 18-month accreditation process for the adult education programs. Once Southern Hills goes through the process they will become eligible for student loans and federal Pell Grant aid to help students get career ready faster.
“It makes us or breaks us,” Krazter said. “If we don’t get that accreditation in the fall it’s such a barrier. The finances for someone coming to take a class is such a barrier they don’t do it. If we have the ability to give loans and grants, which we are working very hard to do, that opens gates for people where before they were closed.”
Anyone with questions regarding RAMTEC or Southern Hills CTC they can contact the program coordinator Melissa Layman at 937-379-6131, ext. 307 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.