Sunday, September 4, 2022

STEM Learning Inspires


The seventh grader brought the bridge he made from mere toothpicks to STEMFest at The Works.  His special needs school aide and parents came with him. 

He put his bridge under test to see if it could withstand the pressure.  Then, he put himself to the test too with the pressure of presenting in front of the judges and competition.

The tears running down his parents’ faces and those of many in the crowd proved that that kid had passed a new threshold of STEM learning that even those closest to him wondered whether he could pass.  He nailed it!

Though he didn’t win the competition that day, there’s no doubt he won a new path for himself with STEM learning at the heart of it.  Inspiring.

This inspiring story is repeated in Licking County throughout our history and now.

The Newark Rotary Club, 100 years ago, put on an industrial exposition to help the special needs children of our community.  An April 1921 Rotary event was an early example of helping our community prepare for industry while also helping our children of all capabilities excel.

This summer of 2022 was inspiring with a new way to connect industry and learners of all kinds.  PCA, Boeing, and Covestro technologists showed off their day-to-day STEM skills to an integrated audience of YMCA summer campers and YMCA All for One campers. 

I watched an All for One camper put together his PCA cardboard cutout faster than most and faster, certainly, than I could have grasped doing it.  His determination was inspiring.

STEM learning in Licking County is reaching a wider audience and special needs children are a part of the audience. 

It’s all happening at the right time.  STEM skills in Licking County are in demand.

Boeing is hiring.  There are 28 different jobs, many requiring engineering skills, available at right now.

Ohio Means Jobs Licking County is helping fill jobs at Ariel, Gathered Foods, and other STEM-skilled job creators. advertises over 10,000 jobs within 50 miles with the keyword engineer included.

Plus, who hasn’t heard of that chipmaker coming to Licking County? Intel craves STEM skills.

These are my three suggestions for considering adding STEM learning to your children’s and your own educational backgrounds:

 1.    Take part in STEMfest at The Works.  The early March competition starts this Autumn by picking the industry challenge, forming a team, and preparing to both understand the science plus tell the STEM story too.  The Works is a spark to STEM learning and has a track record of more than 14 years at inspiring youth to STEM careers.

 2.    Sign up for your school systems’ STEM programs.  Many of our Licking County schools have STEM learning programming in addition to the regular curriculum.  For example, Newark City Schools offers pre-engineering to elementary school kids now.  Their STEM summer camps are a must-do.

 3.    Inspire STEM learning in your home.  Call it STEM literacy.  I heard a stat once that four of five Nobel Prize winners were inspired outside of the classroom.  Seek out programming at Dawes or other STEM learning venues.  Look for that possible inspiration to a STEM career through exposure to a wide variety of STEM learning options.

I know from personal experience that STEM learning is an inspiration for a better future for all Licking Countians.  I know, because I’ve been inspired by our youth.


This development column is a regular column in The Advocate.

See The Advocate story "Buckeye Family YMCA Holding STEM Camps, Learning Opportunities" for more.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Writing Our 2020’s Song About Growth

Songs from the ‘80’s and ‘90’s are part of my youth in more ways than one.


Now Main Street’s whitewashed windows

And vacant stores

Seems like there ain’t nobody

Wants to come down here no more

Bruce Springsteen’s My Hometown might as while have been about my hometown.  I grew up in a steel town that doesn’t make steel anymore.  Much of my classmates did what Springsteen sang about—packed up our bags, maybe heading south.

Springsteen sung a ballad about my father’s hometown too—Youngstown.  It’s a melancholy song of a declining place in a country that didn’t appreciate manufacturing and the nation’s cravings for steel.


Well my daddy came on the Ohio Works

When he came home from World War Two

Now the yards just scrap and rubble


Even Billy Joel got in the act too singing about decline in the ‘80’s.  Allentown was about Pennsylvania towns, but it spoke to many of us Ohioans back then.


Well we’re living here in Allentown

And they’re closing all the factories down

Out in Bethlehem they’re killing time

Filling out forms

Standing in line


My kids and grandkids (I’m grateful for one of those on the way.) won’t have the same tunes stuck in their heads that I did.  The lyrics about growth and progress are writing themselves in places like Newark and Licking County in the 2020’s. 

A whole new generation of song writers have new fodder of so-called “problems” in Ohio in the 2020’s—more jobs than people to fill them, more buyers than sellers of homes, and more interested industrial businesses than available industrial sites.

My generation has an obligation to remind later generations that these problems are not really problematic in comparison to the alternatives.  Trust me.  I watched decline, not just listened to it in songs.

It’s harder to figure out how to fund a shrinking school system than a growing one nearing capacity.  It’s a real task to rebuild old streets on a dime than pave new ones on a dollar.  Waiting for your job’s new electronic paycheck in your account beats waiting for the old paper unemployment check delivered to your porch.

I’ll suggest that Bruce could write about Intel.  It’s first new factory in decades is happening in Ohio.  Ground was broken in Licking County earlier this month to signal the realness of a whole new semiconductor industry coming to the Heartland.  Suppliers are already here in Ohio and the promise is more are on their way. These facts bring with it a new song of positive progress instead of an old song of stagnation.

Billy could write lyrics about blossoming manufacturing of all sorts like soy crisps at GB Food in Heath or polycarbonate at Covestro in Hebron.  I’d suggest song writers paint a picture about Behr paint soon to be made in Licking County or get fired up about gas compressor components assembled at the recently tripled-in-size Ariel plant.  The Tamarack Dairy milk plant is expanding.  So is the thin film plant owned by Transcendia.  Expansion story lines of the 2020’s sure beat the opposite story of U.S. manufacturing in the ‘80s.

Given decline or growth, who doesn’t choose growth for their kids and grandkids?

I think there really are some lyrics in there somewhere. Together, let’s sing about growth in the 2020’s in our hometown.


This development column is a regular column in The Advocate.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Licking County Manufacturer Workers Play Key National Security Roles


Historians in Licking County proudly remind of us local people who stood out militarily like Johnny Clem in the Civil War and Don Jakeway in World War II. There’s a lesser-known role that stands out too.  Unique to the World capabilities abound. Licking County workers can proudly boast being a part of manufacturing products that serve the national security of our country in many important ways.

Intel’s $20 billion investment Ohio announcement is a future case of our workforce’s role in national security important work but there are current examples too.

Missiles and Aircraft

For 60 years, guidance systems for missiles and aircraft have come through Licking County and the Aerospace & Technology Center campus. As many have remarked over the years, the Newark AFB helped a nation win the Cold War.  Boeing's guidance systems are maintained and remanufactured at Heath.  They fulfill a critical part of the strategic deterrence fleet. 



For 78 years, the aluminum coming out of the Kaiser Aluminum plant in Heath has served a national defense purpose.  This continues today with the plant’s unique heavy alloy aluminum making process crucial to defense industry products.


Testing Labs

MISTRAS Group performs non-destructive testing on materials in use for a variety of defense, space, and aviation purposes.  The materials tested in Heath end up on national security important equipment from Boeing airplanes to military rockets.



That’s metrology, not meteorology.  It’s not about weather, It’s about precision measurement. The Air Force Primary Standards Laboratory operated by Bionetics is the largest of the Pentagon's primary standards laboratories. Boeing's internal metrology operation is second largest within all of Boeing. Thus, combined, the metrology concentration is the largest of its kind in the World. It's the science of measurement and precision capabilities that separate our military from others around the globe. 


Baby Formula

The ongoing crisis of a shortage of baby formula pushed Nature's One's work to the forefront. The facility on James Parkway in Heath opened in June 2020 as the World's largest organic infant nutrition manufacturing facility. The pride comes through that the doubling of output is serving a timely, national purpose.



Two former Owens Corning engineers took their knowledge of advanced materials and created a composite armor made of fiberglass, ceramic, and other materials.  The result is armor made by Tencate and military helmets made by ArmorSource.



Chips already have a supply chain path to Licking County and have for decades. Momentive Performance in Union Township manufactures silicon quartz crucibles and tubing consumed in the making of semiconductors.  One could, rightly, say Licking County already plays a role in putting silicon in the Silicon Heartland nickname.

Now, Intel Ohio puts Licking County on the map with manufacturing of semiconductors slated for a 2025 opening. Intel has picked our community’s collective capabilities to invest in the manufacturing of products which secure our nation’s future. The result secures Licking County's place in restoring a manufacturing balance to the shores of the U.S. is extraordinary and crucial.

This list is just a start.  It truly is amazing and both a source of pride for our workforce and a source of patriotism for all of us that these roles exist in Licking County.


This development column is a regular column in The Advocate.