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Board of Trustees predict high returns from Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center, president’s long-term strategic plan

Dec 13, 2017
Progress report on the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center (OMIC), discussing the university’s long-term vision and mission, and learning about the university’s Honors Program.

The Oregon Institute of Technology (“Oregon Tech”) Board of Trustees met Dec. 7 and Dec. 8 at its Portland-Metro campus in Wilsonville, discussing among other items a progress report on the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center (OMIC), discussing the university’s long-term vision and mission, and learning about the university’s Honors Program.

Honors Program     Dr. Christopher Syrnyk, the director of the Oregon Tech Honors Program, made the first presentation to the Board of Trustees of Oregon Tech, highlighting some of the Honors Program’s curricular and programmatic accomplishments since the Program's beginnings. Dr. Syrnyk informed the Board that he is “proudest of the Program’s tradition of working with its students to bring about the most significant changes and improvements to the Honors Program.” Dr. Syrnyk said, “Add the best colleagues and you know why Oregon Tech’s Honors Program continues to enjoy a growing reputation.”

Dr. Syrnyk noted that the purpose of the program is to build the kind of thoughtful character that values kindness, strength and empathy, as well as integrity, intelligence and challenge; to foster a community of thinkers and doers; and to try new experiences; and to foster the person in the future professional. Honors sections of courses are taught in innovative ways by select faculty to small groups of students; and also include special advising, activities, trips and community service projects.

OMIC Progress     Laura McKinney, vice president of Oregon Tech’s Portland-Metro campus and host operations lead for OMIC, briefed trustees on OMIC’s progress toward its applied research agenda. She summarized Oregon Tech’s role as host university of the public-private partnership and the operational and fiduciary responsibilities that role entails. She noted that OMIC R&D has made significant and rapid progress. McKinney said that annexation of the property to the City of Scappoose is pending and permanent road construction to the building is expected to be completed by September 2018; the egress was made possible thanks to the generous land donation by Scott Parker and family. Infrastructure changes, which received state support to complete, are underway to facilitate equipment placement, and the projects currently being bid on by partners.

The 10 original OMIC R&D partners signed the collaboration agreement in June, and since then six new industry partners either have joined or are in the partnership process. Significant equipment donations are in the pipeline, which will support applied research projects; pilot projects are also underway. Trustees commented on the rich opportunity that OMIC provides for professional practice for Oregon Tech students as well as new course delivery options; and that faculty will have access to sophisticated shared equipment to work with students on solutions to the problem sets that industry brings forward, extending their own experience base while helping manufacturing companies grow and succeed – and eventually hire Oregon Tech graduates.

McKinney noted that the OMIC R&D enterprise is a sizable industry-higher education partnership, so there are high expectations, and thus complexities remain. As an outside-in research enterprise, OMIC brings many assets to bear to expand manufacturing in Oregon, to increase jobs statewide, and to create a pipeline of highly skilled engineers and technologists for industry.

Trustees expressed their enthusiastic support for OMIC and what it will mean for Oregon Tech’s students, faculty, industry relationships and the state overall in terms of positive returns. The partnership with industry and other education institutions will engage faculty and students in sophisticated applied research projects and the newest machinery on which to complete real problem sets. It will also expose industry to our talented students, who will gain not only experience but also important connections to engineering and technology professionals.

Long-term goals     Dr. Nagi Naganathan, president of Oregon Tech, discussed with trustees potential changes to Oregon Tech’s vision and mission that are more aligned with today’s and future directions. He described a vision that during the next decade, Oregon Tech will become an established world leader among polytechnic institutions, and enjoy a reputation as ‘industry’s university’, nurturing the best of professionals for engineering, health, business and technology fields, and emphasizing hands-on undergraduate and graduate education and applied research. The long-term goals developed by Oregon Tech will fall under an intentional vision and move to action. Goals will focus on excellence, setting a high bar, defining a distinctive edge, and securing diverse resources to bring the vision to life and focus on a vibrant future. Trustees noted their appreciation for Dr. Naganthan’s vision and the university’s engagement in it, and for the short term, actionable milestones within the longer goals.

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About Oregon Tech
Founded in Klamath Falls in 1947, Oregon Institute of Technology is the premier public polytechnic institution in the Pacific Northwest. Oregon Tech provides bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in engineering, health technologies, business, technology, communication, and applied sciences that prepare students to be effective participants in their professional, public, and international communities through applied and relevant learning and professional practice. Oregon Tech has a full-service, residential campus in Klamath Falls, an urban, industry-focused campus in Portland-Metro (Wilsonville), an Online Campus, and offers degrees at Boeing Seattle, Salem and at other sites. Visit www.oit.edu to learn more about Oregon Institute of Technology.

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