Tolles can train more people with new robotic equipment

(Posted Jan. 19, 2024)

The State of Ohio has awarded $200,000 in Super RAPIDS funding to Tolles Career and Technical Center in Plain City. Tolles will use the funds to purchase new robotic equipment, training workstations, and technical curriculum.

“We are absolutely thrilled to receive this funding which will increase our current capacity to educate and train the workforce of tomorrow,” said Tolles Superintendent Todd Hoadley. “We pride ourselves on staying ahead of workforce trends, and these funds will allow us to broaden our offerings even further and faster.”

Kevin Prenger, Tolles director of adult education, said once the new equipment is purchased and in place, the school’s Multi-Craft Maintenance Certificate Program will be able to train 40 students annually instead of 25, a 60 percent increase. Its customized training for Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) will jump from 36 adults annually to 60 adults, a 66 percent increase.

“During 2023, 16 percent of the Multi-Craft Maintenance Certificate Program students were from Union County and 10 percent were from Madison County,” Prenger said. “The increase in our program capacity will provide more opportunities for adults from both counties to enroll and participate in getting these valuable certifications.”

Scotts Miracle Gro, a staple in Union County since 1868, recently contracted with Tolles to deliver training to its current employees, Prenger said. The funding will allow Tolles to train more Scotts employees at one time.

“In addition, specialized FANUC Collaborative Robots will be new to Tolles and will provide us with the necessary equipment to offer custom training to other local manufacturers as more of them purchase and integrate this type of robot into their operations,” he added.

Tolles was one of 81 higher education institutions in Ohio to receive Super RAPIDS funding. The state distributed a total of $40 million through the program.

This one-time funding boost to the traditional RAPIDS program was included in the state operating budget to help institutions purchase equipment specific to regional workforce needs. This one round of Super RAPIDS funding will provide almost as much as six rounds of traditional RAPIDS program funding.

“We have thousands of jobs coming to Ohio, and it’s vital that our workforce is prepared and ready to fill them,” said Gov. Mike DeWine when announcing the grant recipients last month.

“To continue Ohio’s economic momentum, our students must be trained and ready for jobs in technology, advanced manufacturing, and other high-skill industries,” said Lt. Governor Jon Husted. “We championed Super RAPIDS in the state budget to ensure that training providers have the right kind of resources and equipment available to educate the next generation of Ohio’s workforce.”

Examples of industries served through the RAPIDS program include advanced manufacturing, information technology and cybersecurity, broadband/5G, healthcare, and robotics.

“The RAPIDS program has been a win-win for Ohio’s campuses and regional employers since its inception,” said Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor Randy Gardner. “This investment will continue that success by meeting the most urgent workforce needs, ensuring students are prepared for the future.”

Tolles’ next Multi-Craft Maintenance Certificate Program will begin on April 2, 2024, meeting Monday through Thursday evenings from 5 to 9 p.m. For more information about adult training programs at Tolles, visit Tolles programs.

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