On October 3rd, the Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech) Board of Trustees approved the final purchase steps of a facility to house the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center (OMIC) in Scappoose, Oregon, north of Portland. In May 2016, the Oregon Legislature allocated $7.5 million toward OMIC’s creation; it will open in 2017.
OMIC is an industry/higher education model of advancing regional manufacturing through industry-relevant research and development with universities, and community college training and apprenticeship programs. It includes several entities and is expected to grow in ways witnessed at similar innovation centers using the same model. Oregon Tech will be joined in the R&D Center by Portland State University and Oregon State University, with Portland Community College building a nearby training and apprenticeship center. Several manufacturing and machining companies have made initial commitments and will be announced soon by the OMIC partners; and state and local government entities have facilitated the opening of the R&D Center with funding and other support, including the Oregon Legislature, the Office of the Governor, Oregon Employment Department, Business Oregon, Greater Portland Inc., Columbia County, and the City of Scappoose.
“I’ve been executing this collaborative model for 15 years in 14 different locations around the world, and this is the first time Boeing has successfully engaged the model in the US,” noted Bill Gerry, program manager for Global Technology at Boeing. “This is a great opportunity for all of the partners, and a feather in the cap for Oregon Tech and for the state of Oregon, which have done a yeoman’s job throughout the process. Because of the state and regional support for OMIC we have seen interest nationally and internationally from industries to support this effort with equipment donations and other investments. This is an excellent starting point to form up the OMIC partnership, and future growth will have an even greater economic impact in the state.”
‘World Class Opportunity’
Dr. Jay Kenton, interim president of Oregon Tech, described OMIC as “a world-class opportunity for Oregon and Oregon Tech that has positive implications for the state’s economy, for high-quality jobs, and for the education and training of the next generation of a manufacturing workforce in Oregon.” He said that OMIC will augment the region’s capabilities in metals, machining, and manufacturing by delivering innovative solutions to industry while also providing on-the-job research and education opportunities for Oregon Tech’s and other institutions’ students. The use of remote education delivery from and to the OMIC R&D Center will enable students at all of Oregon Tech’s campuses to access courses across the university’s network, some from the labs in Scappoose for example, and some from classrooms in Wilsonville and Klamath Falls eventually.
“No project showcases industry-academic-government alignment more than the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center,” said Chris Harder, director of Business Oregon. “The Center has the potential to create a lasting economic asset for Oregon, and help to transform this region’s manufacturing industry.” Kenton said that the R&D business launch of OMIC will commence in 2017, and is leveraging the experience gained during the startup and evolution of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Sheffield, UK.
The AMRC started with humble beginnings and a limited set of industry partners, and now boasts a 400-acre research and training campus with over 70 industry partners and annual revenues of $100 million. The University of Sheffield was a 3rd tier university prior to starting the AMRC, and now enjoys a tier 1 reputation and associated revenue.