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Ohio Hi-Point leader eyes future plans for smart technology classes

November 19, 2016

Area students will begin training for jobs in the near future which may not be fully developed today.

Ohio Hi-Point Career Center Superintendent Rick Smith reported to the Hardin County Economic and Community Development Committee Friday morning that within two years his school will begin offering classes in smart technology.

It will be an opportunity for students to be on the cutting edge of self-driving automotive and drone technology which will be unique worldwide.

There are plans in place for development of the technology to be tested on U.S. 33 between Dublin and Bellefontaine, using the Transportation Research Center located between Bellefontaine and Marysville.

Hi-Point enrolls students in Union, Logan, Champaign and Hardin counties, he noted.

There will be need for people to design and develop sensors, switches and communication devices for the project to track the automated vehicles.

“This is a large project,” said Smith after the session.

“It will involve TRC, Ohio State, Michigan, ODOT, Carnegie-Mellon and more. This is a chance for students to help lay the foundation for a whole new job market.”

Cars are already being developed with lane sensors and automatic braking systems, he noted.

It has been predicted that within 15 years, most cars on the highway will be automatically driven.

“This is one of the few places in the world where we could expand the models and develop these type of jobs,” Smith said.

Students in the new program will be able to earn college credits and train for highly marketable careers, he said.

The school will be investing $1.5 million in remodeling classroom space for the smart technology and animal science programs, he said.

Hi-Point is also looking to return some of the courses which had been discontinued, said the superintendent, including HVAC and environmental.

There is also work being done to introduce an applied manufacturing class.

The career center has established satellite programs in 12 of the 14 districts served by Ohio Hi-Point, including one in Kenton and Upper Scioto Valley.

The satellite programs allows students to consider career decisions at a much earlier age with some enrolled in seventh or eighth grades.

Smith said there also are plans at Hi-Point to expand the internship programs to allow for more students to get hands-on training at area businesses.

The program has increased this year from 20 to 35 students with plans within five years to have 100 interns working through the school’s program.

He encouraged the business owners at Friday’s meeting to video the jobs done at their facilities to give the Hi-Point students more of an idea of the type of work they would be doing.

There has been an emphasis this year on expanding and better training the county’s work force, said Jon Cross, President and CEO of the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance and Economic Development Director.

All county schools are offering internship programs, said Cross.

“Next we need to talk to parents and convince them things have changed in education since they were in school,” he said.

The added training is another example of the good economic news for the county, said Cross.

He noted there are 300 workers based out office located on the former Rockwell lot who are overseeing the installation of a Marathon pipeline through the area.

The workers are making an impact on local restaurants and hotels, said Cross.

There also has been news of EverPower signing an agreement to provide power to Amazon and install $300 million in wind turbines in 2017, said Cross.

Two other wind developers are in the process of setting up units in the county, he noted.

“There could be $1 billion invested in the county over ten years,” he said.

Development and expansion plans also were shared as the business owners went around the breakfast table in a discussion.

Hardin Memorial Hospital is planning to add an oncology department and expand telemedicine technology to bring the best “medical expertise throughout Ohio to Hardin County,” said Crystal Scott, Director of Nursing at HMH.

Thomas and Marker Construction Co. will be building the new department.

“All of this really helps our community,” said Cross.