NASA Glenn and YSU collaborate to improve Manufacturing in the Valley
As part of the growing manufacturing initiative at Youngstown State University, experts from the NASA Glenn Research Center will be offering no-cost consultation to area manufacturing businesses.
NASA Glenn is a Cleveland-based NASA research center that tests and creates the latest technology in many areas, including aerospace and space exploration. The center is also participating in the Ohio tech community by partnering with businesses and collaborating with universities and colleges within the state.
Michael Hripko, director of STEM College Research and Technology-based Economic Development at YSU, is coordinating the consultation program.
“I think what NASA Glenn is trying to demonstrate is that even though they may not have an active shuttle program, there is great value in having a resource with this much technical expertise in the region,” Hripko said. “Not only for aerospace and military research, but also for economic development. So they’re kind of broadening their role.”
On Oct. 23, NASA Glenn will be bringing a wide range of technology experts to campus to work with select companies on new or existing projects as well as their future courses of action. They will offer advisement and access to advanced resources.
“As the businesses indicate what their challenges are,” Hripko said. “The NASA Glenn team will review them and say, ‘you know, we happen to have a subject matter expert who might be able to help solve that problem.’”
Company representatives will meet in the Ohio Room in Kilcawley Center for an introduction. They will spread out to meeting rooms around the center for private meetings with NASA experts.
YSU has received six attendance applications from local companies. But as the event approaches, Hripko said they expect to see an inflow of applications and hopes to have between ten and 15 local companies in attendance.
NASA Glenn’s involvement with YSU is due to the efforts of the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (MAGNET), and of the federal program, Strong Cities, Strong Communities.
Strong Cities, Strong Community is a federal government program being implemented in Youngstown and six other cities across the nation that focuses on fostering and strengthening local governments.
“The aim of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) initiative is to best leverage various agencies within the federal government to address the needs of the city,” said Scott Smith, White House SC2 Team Lead in Youngstown. “By working with the city and other community leaders like YSU, along with Federal partners like NASA, we can best support programs that encourage new opportunities for the community.”
One of the initiative’s predominant goals is bolstering the manufacturing network, image, and resources of the valley. Hripko said that Smith first introduced YSU to NASA Glenn in March.
“He is helping us to develop a new business strategy and positioning for the Youngstown community,” Hripko said. “And an affiliation with NASA Glenn — and an opportunity to engage them in Youngstown — really helps our technology image.”
With the contact between NASA Glenn and YSU forged, Smith said the relationship could expand.
“As of now, we have only opened the door with NASA Glenn. The next step with NASA and YSU STEM can be found in potential for internships for students and future grant activities,” Smith said.
MAGNET is a non-profit group dedicated to the improvement and expansion of Ohio’s manufacturing industry. The group does this through building an intricate network of companies, universities, colleges, and economic development partners and offering their own expertise to small to mid-sized companies.
“We are very good at going into smaller mid-sized manufacturers — and we know a lot of them — and understanding, based on what they tell us, their needs in manufacturing, in technology, in product growth and innovation and work force,” said Deborah Wood. “We will be the intermediary link for our colleges and universities and economic development partners and resources, such as NASA, to bring that to manufacturers.”
As part of the Partnership for Regional Innovation Services to Manufacturers (PRISM), MAGNET partnered with YSU and other regional universities to assist local manufacturing companies and to allow them easier access to high-end resources that would typically be out of their reach.
“Last spring, YSU entered into an agreement with MAGNET to be one of the regional universities that could be a resource if their industry contacts ever needed us,” Hripko said “In parallel to that, MAGNET also has a relationship with NASA Glenn.”
MAGNET offers the university’s expertise to a myriad of other universities, thus helping YSU further build relationships with both large and small manufacturers around the valley and throughout the state.
“If there is a Cleveland company that needs an area of expertise that we know exists at Youngstown State, then we will bring in those resources to even a Cleveland area company,” said Wood.
The event itself was brought to fruition at YSU partially because of the NASA Glenn and MAGNET Manufacturing Innovation Project that has been offering manufacturers access to NASA Glenn’s subject matter experts that work as an intermediary between NASA Glenn and small to mid-sized manufacturers.
“Our three institutions, joining together in support of manufacturing, serve as a great example of public-private collaboration working to create jobs and increase economic development in our region,” said YSU President Randy Dunn. “The collaboration between Youngstown State, NASA Glenn and MAGNET will help to enhance our area’s manufacturing success.”