NEW PHILADELPHIA —  A piece of equipment being used to expand manufacturing training in the Tuscarawas Valley is now operational at Buckeye Career Center. A $109,623 Lincoln Electric robotic welder now sits in the Welding lab at BCC. It was acquired in part by a grant that was awarded to the Multi-County Advanced Manufacturing Corridor (MCAMC) workgroup, in addition to local contributions. The grant was made possible by the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association and the Governor’s Office of Appalachia. The second round of funding will allow BCC to purchase a new CNC plasma cutting system and a Fanuc Fenceless Robot Trainer, with Kent State University at Tuscarawas purchasing other necessary training devices.

The robotic welder allows high school welding instructors Randall Patrick and Brian Myers to teach students how to use the growing technique. A full-time Adult Education Welding program will begin during the 2019-2020 school year. "About one-third of area companies are using these," said Patrick. He expects more companies to begin using the technology, as well, as employers become more efficient. The instructors recently attended a three-day training at Lincoln Electric’s training institute in Cleveland to better understand how the machine operates. "The aim of this acquisition is to be able to teach robotic welding, as well as the programming," said Myers. "We want to expose today’s students to the latest technologies that are out there in our manufacturing environments. We are teaching students to write the code and operate the machine," he said.

Frank Polen, director of curriculum, instruction, and adult education at BCC, believes the technology is a direct line to local employers. "Humanly, you can sometimes weld as fast as what this will do. What you can’t keep up with is the manpower, in terms of putting the steel in place or rotating the steel, because that causes you to stop welding, reload the steel, the pipe, or whatever it may be that you are welding," said Polen. "This machine does all of that."

The MCAMC is comprised of officials from the Tuscarawas County Chamber of Commerce, Kent State University at Tuscarawas, Buckeye Career Center, Ohio Means Jobs of Stark and Tuscarawas Counties, East Central Ohio Educational Service Center, Harrison County Community and Economic Development, and Carroll County Economic Development. The group hopes to expand local manufacturing training to benefit employers in the Tuscarawas Valley. The partnership also allows KSU Tuscarawas and BCC to share resources and develop new academic and training programs.