COLUMBUS, OHIO — Edison Community College has started a plastics program to serve the 260 plastics processors in its eight-county area in the west-central part of the state. Classes started last fall at ECC in Piqua, Ohio. Coordinator Roger Scherer said ECC is offering a Fast Track program, a one-year certificate and a two-year associate's degree.
Fast Track consists of a four-class series on injection molding, or extrusion and blow molding. For example, the Fast Track courses for injection molding are molding, hydraulics and pneumatics, materials and the theory and practice of industrial plastics.
In the future, the community college may expand to bachelor's and master's degree programs, Scherer said.
In January, the Ohio Board of Regents awarded a $910,000 grant to the school. Scherer said local industry has donated another $600,000 worth of equipment.
Before coming to Edison Community College, Scherer was a faculty member at Shawnee State University, in the Plastics Engineering Technology program, in Portsmouth, Ohio. A custom injection molder in Piqua, Master Industries Inc. had hired Scherer to train workers at its factory. He then linked up with ECC, which hired him to run its new plastics program.
Scherer and James Brogden, Master Industries' president and owner, described how the program was developed in a presentation at the Ohio Plastics Summit, held Jan. 25 in Columbus.
Brogden said Master Industries, which employs 109 people, was committed to starting an employee training program — even before the ECC started. "I truly believe that training and education are the strong keys that are making us more productive."
Master Industries uses a two-pronged strategy. Under a "pay for knowledge" plan, employees earn raises of 50 cents an hour after completing five courses at Edison Community College. They can earn more for receiving a certificate or degree. Soon, the company will launch "pay for skills," which boosts pay for learning new job skills specific to Master Industries.
For example, a production employee could master materials-handling skills, and win a raise.
"It takes us out of the drudgery of the poor person standing there all day at the injection molding machine. It gives them quality of working life," Brogden said at the summit.
So far, about 20 percent of eligible employees at Master Industries have taken courses at the college.
Scherer vowed to take training out of the classroom, and into local factories.
"You have to work around industry's schedule. Part of the problem with schools is, they're on their own schedule. That won't work with industry," he said.