Wabash Heartland Innovation Network Initiative

Tecumseh Area Partnership, Inc. along with Greater Lafayette Commerce, Purdue University Polytechnic Institute, Ivy Tech Community College- Lafayette Campus, Indiana Next Generation Manufacturing Competitiveness Center (IN-MaC), and WHIN Region County LEDOs (Benton, Fountain, Cass, Carroll, Cass, Montgomery, Pulaski, Tippecanoe, Warren, and White) received $727,770 from the Regional Cultivation Fund to develop and offer authentic, hands-on, industry-education activities for K-12 students in the region.

The project will launch industry-connected educational activities across the region while also optimizing their impact through research. This will help to ensure that we cultivate a talent pipeline capable of supporting the region in becoming the global epicenter of advanced manufacturing. The results of this work will be vital, as manufacturers continue to express concerns about talent shortages, citing the misconceptions held by students/parents of the industry as one of the major contributing factors to the workforce problem. Therefore, this project will examine how such initiatives influence children career perceptions, specifically within the realm of manufacturing, and use the findings as a foundation for discussions and recommendations for enhancing outreach initiatives and preparing children for the future of work.

Robotics in Manufacturing Camps, Manufacturing Week, CoderDojos, and IN-MaC Design & Innovation Studios are the activities that will be conducted across the region. The goal is to not only get kids interested in robotics, manufacturing, and computer coding, but to also establish a cohesive regional talent pipeline for the next generation. The funding from the grant will launch these actives across the region by mitigating the initial cost associated with developing curriculum, sourcing materials, securing the necessary equipment, and optimizing the programming though an impact study.

The activities and camps will be expanded across the region over the course of the grant.  You can expect to see Manufacturing Week expanded into 2 counties in the first year, Coder Dojos expanded into 3 counties, and Robotics Camps entering into 1 county. In year two Manufacturing Week will expand into an additional 6 counties, Coder Dojos in an additional 6 counties, and Robotics Camp in an additional 2 counties. We anticipate to engage 800 teachers, 16,000 students in grades K-12, and more than 20 manufacturers in the Wabash Heartland Region.