The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and Oklahoma State University-OKC recently announced a new partnership to promote an advanced workforce education work/study initiative

New program trains students for manufacturing industry

AME strengthens OSU Polytech’s innovative pathways to quality employment for hundreds of Oklahomans through OSU-OKC 

The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and Oklahoma State University-OKC recently announced a new partnership to promote an advanced workforce education work/study initiative: The Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME) program.

FAME is a national, highly successful hybrid academic/training program designed to help students prepare for highly skilled, globally competitive jobs.

Programs like FAME are aiding OSU Polytech, which launched an expanded vision for innovative STEM-based curriculum, industry-aligned academic programs, flexible learning opportunities and real-world learning experiences in December 2023.

“OKC FAME is an ideal fit for OSU Polytech, which encompasses applied technical education programming in Oklahoma across the OSU System,” said Kyle Wray, OSU senior vice president of system affairs. “Programs such as OKC FAME are an excellent way to bring together the best from the classroom and the ‘real world’ to produce students who are ready to work day one following graduation. OSU has been the undisputed leader in Polytech education for more than 60 years, making OKC FAME and Polytech work seamlessly into the construct of OSU’s commitment as a modern land-grant university.”  

OSU-OKC and the OKC FAME chapter signed a Memorandum of Agreement to begin the program at the OSU-OKC campus this fall. The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber is the hub organization acting as the convening partner with FAME USA nationally and recruiting local companies to join the effort under the moniker OKC FAME.

“OKC FAME and OSU-OKC are offering an innovative intersection of education and paid training to help students earn an associate degree and the certifications needed to land jobs in a modern manufacturing workforce,” said Dr. Ronna Vanderslice, OSU-OKC interim provost and vice provost of academic affairs of the OSU System. “This partnership with the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and a growing number of outstanding Oklahoma industrial companies is helping Oklahoma address its shortage of high-tech workers and spark a revolution of hiring and economic growth.”

Under the OKC FAME agreement, OSU-OKC will provide classroom, laboratory space, equipment and instructors for the program. 

Students enrolled in the OKC FAME program will come to OSU-OKC two days a week for classroom-based learning and then spend at least 24 hours a week working off-campus for a sponsoring employer who has agreed to provide students hands-on training and pay at least $16 an hour. Upon completion of the two-year program, OKC FAME students will have an associate degree from OSU-OKC and certification as an advanced manufacturing technician.

“OKC FAME is a nationally renowned program that we are thrilled to introduce to our community. As a chamber, we are committed to helping our employers, especially in manufacturing, find new ways to access skilled talent,” said Christy Gillenwater, president and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. “OKC FAME is an incredible asset in our arsenal to bolster the economic growth of Greater Oklahoma City and we cannot wait to see how this program grows in the coming years.”

FAME was created by Toyota and moved to the Manufacturing Institute for national scaling in 2019. Today the Manufacturing Institute — as the workforce development and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers — manages FAME USA as it continues to grow across the country with the support of more than 400 manufacturers.

OKC FAME has already partnered with manufacturers IDEX Energy – Advanced Flow Solutions, Climate Control Group, Canoo and OMADA International that will employ OSU-OKC FAME students. 

“As an employer in Oklahoma over multiple decades, we understand the importance of the manufacturing talent pipeline,” said John Behrend, senior HR director for Climate Control Group. “We are thrilled to be among the first partners to introduce FAME to Oklahoma City. We are dedicated to developing this exceptional program in our community and giving people a chance to grow their skills.”

An HR leader Cheri Goodman said IDEX Energy was interested in becoming involved early on in helping launch a FAME Oklahoma City Chapter.

“IDEX continues to build a culture of winning as a team in a high-performance environment where people are invited to do and be their best every day,” Goodman said. “We strongly believe that providing more opportunities for young people to explore careers in manufacturing is not only beneficial for our company, but also for the future of our region.

OMADA International will give students a chance to get a head start in an aerospace career. 

“As a leading aerospace manufacturer, we have undertaken several initiatives in our schools to familiarize students with career opportunities in our industry,” said Jason Jentsch, director of operations for OMADA International. “FAME is an excellent opportunity for us to expand our efforts and nurture budding talent that can contribute to the growth of the aerospace industry in Oklahoma City.”

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