The Van Wert County Courthouse

Sunday, Sep. 22, 2019

Wright State president has info for VW

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Dr. David Hopkins makes a point during a presentation he made to community leaders on Thursday. (photos by Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

Wright State University President David Hopkins had plenty of news for local community members when he spoke during a luncheon event held Thursday at Willow Bend Country Club.

One priority of the Dayton-based university, he said, was collaboration with its community partners.

“We want to be responsive,” Dr. Hopkins told the group. “We want to make sure that our institutions are collaborating in ways that serve the needs of this region.”

He did add, though, that doing so is contingent on people telling the university what they feel those needs are. “So what we work on is listening and then responding,” the Wright State president said. “And we are responding, as you have already heard from our colleagues.”

In talking about the university as a whole, Dr. Hopkins dwelt on the designation of Wright State as the lead institution on an $11.4 million, two-year project to build an aerospace curriculum that links education and training, research, technology commercialization and new job creation for the Dayton area and the state as a whole.

“Wright State will be the lead institution for the state of Ohio … for the development of a very precise aerospace and defense workforce,” he noted. “We’re developing an aerospace-defense curriculum that is of the 21st century.”

He also spoke about a unique education-business collaboration with Mound Laser & Photonics in Miamisburg aimed at increasing the pace of research and development of laser-based products. The project calls for the university and the company to share resources, including staff and lab facilities.

Both of those projects, Dr. Hopkins said, are part of a new understanding by Wright State — and higher education, as a whole — that universities must also focus on job creation, not just education.

Dr. Ruby Mawasha talks about efforts to develop an engineering program at the Lake Campus.

“We must be part of the solution to Ohio’s economic doldrums,” he said. “We must not only produce a talented workforce, we must help create jobs… .”

Of interest to community residents was information Dr. Hopkins provided about Wright State’s Lake Campus located on Grand Lake St. Marys east of Celina.

The Wright State president spoke of the campus’ MBA program, which has graduated 225 students from its inception in 1997, but stressed efforts by Dr. Ruby Mawasha, assistant dean of the university’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, to develop a four-year mechanical engineering degree program at the Lake Campus.

“What we kept hearing about manufacturing was that we needed to bring our mechanical engineering program to this region,” he said. “And if you don’t know, Wright State has a very, very successful College of Engineering and Computer Science.”

Future plans are also to offer a Bachelor of Science in manufacturing and industrial systems engineering.

Dr. Hopkins also reported on a student housing complex now under construction, noting that 32 one-bed apartments are currently being built on the Lake Campus site.

“We will have 32 beds up and running, due to the WOEF Board and their tremendous support … and all that they’ve done,” he said. “This is another opportunity for students who want to have that full experience.”

He also took the time to commend the WOEF (Western Ohio Education Foundation) Board — which includes a number of local residents — for its continuing support of the Lake Campus, noting that the board has provided more than $2.5 million in scholarship funds over its 46-year history — $250,000 in the last year alone.

He also talked about the growth of the university, noting that the Lake Campus, which has added 500 students in the past few years, has been the fastest growing region campus in the state the past three years, while Wright State itself is the second-fastest growing university in Ohio, and now has 18,500 students.

Dr. Hopkins then went “off campus,” so to speak, to talk about Grand Lake St. Marys restoration efforts, which are chaired by Dr. Thomas Knapke, who heads the Small Business Development Center at the Celina campus.

While noting that ridding the lake of its algae problem is the most important priority, Dr. Hopkins turned the issue back to education when he said the challenge is also an opportunity for Wright State and its sister institutions and businesses interested in developing technologies that can deal with the problem of agriculture runoff and other related challenges through a water research institute.

“…if we can determine ways to counter that and we can develop products, we can become a real alternative energy location for the world, from learning how we can deal with this challenging situation.”

Also speaking Thursday were several of Wright State’s local partners, including Vantage Career Center Superintendent Staci Kaufman, Van Wert Economic Development Director Nancy Bowen and Lori Bird and Ann Helm of Northwest State Community College.

All spoke of the value of their collaborations with Wright State and its Lake Campus.

POSTED: 07/22/11 at 4:52 am. FILED UNDER: News