By Natalie Lasky
Youngstown State University signed a partnership agreement Oct. 26 with Foxconn, an electronics manufacturer. Through the agreement, YSU and Foxconn will establish a national electric vehicle training center.
Jennifer Oddo, executive director of the Division of Workforce Education and Innovation, and president of YSU’s Research Foundation, said the deal will help establish a market not only for YSU students, but for industries like Foxconn.
“[YSU is] so very excited for this historic moment today in [the] ‘Voltage Valley,’ it is really another step forward in placing Ohio and the Youngstown-Warren region as the national hub for electric vehicles,” Oddo said. “With the support of Congressman Tim Ryan, we were commissioned by the US Department of Energy to conduct a national and regional labor market study for energy storage.”
Oddo also said the agreement bridges the gap between workforce and academia.
“This one-stop shop is going to be really what we are creating here today. It will have a digital footprint with a physical location, and it will support all the workforce and innovation developing across all adjacent sectors — one that really intersects the workforce with academia and with that training and research,” Oddo said.
Jim Tressel, YSU President, said the collaboration between YSU and Foxconn will have an extended focus beyond electric vehicle manufacturing in YSU’s Kohli Hall.
“The intent of [the Excellence Training Center] is to create a national public-private hub on the emerging electric vehicle industry needs including, but not limited to, advanced manufacturing, energy storage, other integrated technology solutions, such as artificial intelligence, 5G, and … cybersecurity,” Tressel said.
Rick Rajaie, Foxconn’s vice president of Operations of North America, said he has been excited for the announcement of collaboration for some time. Rajaie credited Tressel for the extent of planning that drew interest to YSU and said he was ready to build the company’s community and success.
“We’re very excited about [YSU]. I have been to your school multiple times, fantastic talent, the proximity to our facility,” Rajaie said.
Ohio State Representatives Dave Joyce and Bill Johnson, and Senator Michael Rulli were also in attendance. Rulli said he feels electric vehicles will put the Mahoning Valley on the map as the hub of electric vehicles.
“It puts a spotlight on that area and lets [the United States of America and EV Manufacturers] know that [Mahoning Valley is] geographically perfect for the entire revolution,” Rulli said. “No longer are students [getting] a four-year degree with no idea what they are gonna do with $100,000 debt. Now, they are [going to] graduate with a job and all ready for them, and the possibilities are endless.”