As he prepared to cut the ribbon at the Feb. 6 grand opening of Robert Morris University’s new 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing Laboratory at the Energy Innovation Center in the Hill District, University President Christopher Howard was succinct about why they chose the Hill.
“We want to provide opportunities for everyone in Pittsburgh,” he said. “That includes people who look like you, and people who look like me.”
To that end, of the new lab’s signature programs will be a free 42-hour job training course funded through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. It will also offer an 18-credit certificate course in manufacturing engineering that can serve as a credential for employers and can also be put toward a bachelor’s degree in engineering.
Dean of RMU’s school of engineering, Mathematics and Science Maria Kalevich said the lab can serve as another means of growing the local workforce to meet the current and projected shortfall of skilled workers.
“We all know the challenge that our hometown faces in educating and training highly qualified employees who will sustain the momentum that has made Pittsburgh a national model of economic revitalization,” she said. “RMU is meeting that challenge head-on.”
Also joining Kalevich and Howard at the ribbon-cutting were Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Robert Meeder, president and CEO of Pittsburgh Gateways Corporation, the nonprofit that founded, owns, and operates the Energy Innovation Center LP.
Meeder said RMU’s strengths in energy, workforce development, innovation, corporate relationships and applied research, make the lab a natural fit for the EIC’s mission
“The EIC is eager for this collaboration to begin,” he said. “We envision working with RMU on every element of this center’s mission.”
The industrial capabilities of 3D printing and additive manufacturing technology have increased dramatically in recent years, as dramatically evidenced by the UK company Orbex announcing last week the completion of the largest 3D-printed rocket engine planned for a 2021 launch from Scotland.
Fitzgerald said the lab is another example of how the region is coming together to not only create cutting-edge technology, but creating the jobs to build that technology and the region.
“Having the RMU lab in the EIC, with energy companies, sustainability companies, energy extractors, it’s a hub for job training and skill enhancement, almost like going back to when the old Connelley Vo-Tech that was here,” Fitzgerald told the New Pittsburgh Courier in an interview, Feb. 12. “Bob Meeder’s been doing a lot of outreach, and we’re trying to get the word out to the community, too. The challenge isn’t job creation—it’s job filling. It’s the skills gap we’re trying to meet.”
Classes for the certificate program are scheduled to begin March 11.
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