Colleges share state grants for advanced manufacturing, smart buildings

Three Cincinnati-area colleges will share in grants worth about $1 million to better train students in advanced manufacturing and energy efficiency technologies.

The state of Ohio has awarded grants to the University of Cincinnati, Miami University and, Cincinnati State, who will work with Butler Tech, Great Oaks Institute of Technology and Career Development, and REDI Cincinnati to improve training for students and workers in cloud manufacturing and smart building technology.

Cloud manufacturing is a way for companies to coordinate different manufacturing sites through cloud computing. The goal is to improve response time for their customers, step up the efficiency of their supply chains, and speed the time for products to reach the marketplace.

Cincinnati State, Miami University (and its community colleges), Butler Tech, and REDI Cincinnati will collaborate on that project to improve training for mechanical engineers, electromechanical engineers, manufacturing engineers, engineering technicians, and machine operators, according to the group’s grant proposal.

Part of the funding will be used to buy the equipment and technology that can coordinate the workings of manufacturing operations, such as CNC machines, robotics, 3D printers, and sensors.

“We need engineers and engineering technicians with the skills to thrive in the digital industrial environment, including the ability to utilize cloud manufacturing,” says Steve Hollstegge, a staff facilities technical leader at GE Aviation.


The second project is a collaboration among the University of Cincinnati, its community colleges, Cincinnati State, and the Great Oaks vocational school district to set up a regional training and knowledge lab in “smart building” technologies.


Smart buildings make use of automation to control the structure’s systems, including heating and cooling, ventilation, lighting, and security. However, the technology has advanced faster than the capacity to train students and employees in how to best make use of it. The state funding will be used to establish labs at UC and Cincinnati State for training, research, and professional certification.


The 1,500 square foot lab at UC will be housed in the university’s department of Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management.


A 1,400 square foot building automation systems lab at Cincinnati State will have a capacity for 12 students, and will be used for hands-on training for certificate and associate degree students, workers in the facilities management field, students enrolled in Great Oaks’ HVAC programs, as well as other high school students in the region who have an interest in energy management and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).


“Buildings represent 40 percent of energy consumption in the U.S.,” says James Manning, Cincinnati branch manager for Siemens Building Technologies Division. “It’s critical that we continue to recruit qualified employees to meet the growing demand for energy efficiency.”


The grants were part of $5.3 million round of funding from the state to allow for the purchase of equipment in the fields of information technology, advanced manufacturing, health care, additive manufacturing, cloud manufacturing, smart business automation, and cybersecurity.


As part of the funding round, Cincinnati State will receive $370,925; Miami, $325,000; and UC, $279,075.


The grants are part of the Ohio Department of Higher Education’s Regionally Aligned Priorities in Delivering Skills (RAPIDS) program.

Read more articles by David Holthaus.

David Holthaus is an award-winning journalist and a Cincinnati native. When not writing or editing, he's likely to be bicycling, hiking, reading, or watching classic movies.