ASHLAND— In one of the first signs of Intel’s influence reaching the area, Ashland University has announced it’s joining Ohio Technet’s Northeast Ohio Semiconductor Workforce Consortium, a group of colleges focused on preparing workers for Ohio’s growing “Silicon Heartland.”

The consortium — backed by a grant from Intel — will work to train faculty, develop curriculum, and start learning programs so the region is prepared to serve a new workforce of semiconductor engineers and tech workers, according to a press release from Ashland University.

“Over the next three years, as we work with high school STEM teachers and industry professionals newly entering academia, we’ll bring our passion and belief in the transformational power of education to support Ohio’s workforce,” Dean of eAshland Shawn Orr said.

To that end, Ashland University will develop two projects: Smart Manufacturing Semiconductor Bootcamps and a Industry Educator Teaching certificate program.

The bootcamps will allow local STEM teachers, college professors, and future instructors to get hands-on experience with the unique ins and outs of semiconductor manufacturing.

“Smart room and clean room manufacturing is completely different than traditional manufacturing. You have to wear the white suit with the caps and you have to wear the white coveralls,” Director of Workforce Development at Ashland University Stephanie Meeks said.

The online industry educator certificate program will focus on molding industry professionals who already have semiconductor experience into instructors and potential college faculty members.

“It’s a real collaboration among industry and higher ed. Those two usually don’t partner, but this is happening. Without these cross-sector partnerships and collaborations, if you don’t have those I don’t think you can be successful,” Meeks said.

The consortium — led by Lorain County Community College — is set to operate for at least three years, the span of the Intel grant.

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