TERRE HAUTE —
A community southeast of Indianapolis is turning to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology to assist with a workforce and economic development initiative.
Rose-Hulman is partnering with Shelby County and the city of Shelbyville in the project, called the Innovative Model: Positioning Communities for Transformation program (IMPaCT 2016).
City and county officials there recently approved $186,000 to support the program, beginning this fall.
Officials announced the program Thursday in Shelbyville. They say it will assist the community in the creation of home-grown entrepreneurial talent, educate future innovators and attract manufacturing- and technology-based businesses.
“It’s a workforce development program aimed at exposing our students to STEM [science, technology, engineering, math] careers at an early point in their lives,” said Chris King, a 2002 Rose-Hulman civil engineering graduate and past-president of the Shelby County Development Corp.
The project will use existing Rose-Hulman programs to expose Shelby County high school students to the STEM fields.
The EMERGE tele-mentoring program will connect Rose-Hulman students with Shelby County ninth-graders to get the high school students thinking about STEM careers and the accompanying educational requirements.
Shelby County high school students who have completed their junior year will have the opportunity to participate in Rose-Hulman’s Operation Catapult, a summer program that will expose them to engineering and applied science through project work.
The initiative also will involve Rose-Hulman Ventures. Project managers and student interns at Rose-Hulman Ventures will help Shelby County companies solve technology challenges in the innovation-stage of development.
The community has landed three new companies involved in advanced manufacturing and “things are turning around for us” from an economic development standpoint, King said. Now, it wants to prepare a workforce that can work at those high tech companies. Hopefully, some of those students will start their own companies.
But the first step is to show the high school students that opportunities exist for them right in their home community, King said. It’s an attempt to reverse the so-called “brain drain.”
Robert A. Coons, Rose-Hulman interim president, said Shelby County has been working to revitalize its manufacturing arm and recruit manufacturing businesses as well.
Officials there, led by King — who is familiar with what Rose has to offer — approached Rose-Hulman about the partnership, Coons said.
Rose-Hulman gains because its students will have internship opportunities at Shelby County companies, which may later hire Rose graduates, Coons said.
Rose-Hulman “is doing very much the same thing in Vigo County, but it’s packaged differently [in Shelby County],” which has some grant funds to support its efforts, Coons said.
According to King, what Shelby County is doing with Rose-Hulman “potentially can serve as a model for other communities.”
The partnership with Rose-Hulman “has the potential to be a game-changer for Shelby County and the community’s ability to retain, grow and attract manufacturing- and technology-based companies,” said King, a Shelby County native.
Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812 231-4235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.