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Oregon Tech Trustees approve final steps towards R&D opening of Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center

October 04,2016
Collaborative Center is first of its kind in U.S., slated to open in early 2017

WILSONVILLE, OR. – The Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech) Board of Trustees today unanimously approved the final purchase steps of a facility to house the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center (OMIC) research and development center, and move ahead with plans to open the facility in 2017. OMIC is an industry/higher education model of advancing regional manufacturing through industry-relevant research and development with universities, and community college training and apprenticeship programs. Earlier this year Oregon Tech’s Board approved making an offer to purchase the facility in Scappoose, Oregon that will house the OMIC R&D Center after some property enhancements and renovations. Today’s action by Oregon Tech’s Board finalizes the due diligence and authorizes the purchase.

The OMIC collaboration includes several entities and is expected to grow in ways witnessed at similar innovation centers using the same model. Oregon Tech will be joined in the R&D Center by Portland State University and Oregon State University, with Portland Community College building a nearby training and apprenticeship center. Several manufacturing and machining companies have made initial commitments and will be announced soon by the OMIC partners; and state and local government entities have facilitated the opening of the R&D Center with funding and other support, including the Oregon Legislature, the Office of the Governor, Oregon Employment Department, Business Oregon, Greater Portland Inc, Columbia County, and the City of Scappoose.

Bill Gerry, program manager for Global Technology at Boeing said, “I’ve been executing this collaborative model for fifteen years in fourteen different locations around the world, and this is the first time Boeing has successfully engaged the model in the US. This is a great opportunity for all of the partners, and a feather in the cap for Oregon Tech and for the state of Oregon, which have done a yeoman’s job throughout the process. Because of the state and regional support for OMIC we have seen interest nationally and internationally from industries to support this effort with equipment donations and other investments. This is an excellent starting point to form up the OMIC partnership, and future growth will have an even greater economic impact in the state.”

Dr. Jay Kenton, Interim President of Oregon Tech, described OMIC as, “… a world-class opportunity for Oregon and Oregon Tech that has positive implications for the state’s economy, for high quality jobs, and for the education and training of the next generation of a manufacturing workforce in Oregon.” He said that OMIC will augment the region’s capabilities in metals, machining, and manufacturing by delivering innovative solutions to industry while also providing on-the-job research and education opportunities for Oregon Tech’s and other institutions’ students. The use of remote education delivery from and to the OMIC R&D Center will enable students at all of Oregon Tech’s campuses to access courses across the university’s network, some from the labs in Scappoose for example, and some from classrooms in Wilsonville and Klamath Falls eventually.

Senator Betsy Johnson said, “OMIC is the most exciting initiative that I have worked on since my time in the Oregon legislature, and is my highest legislative priority. This will be transformational not just for Scappoose and Columbia County but for the state, region and nation. The OMIC partners will deliver the same type of economic and educational success for Oregon as has been seen in previous collaborations done internationally.”

In summarizing the potential of the project, Dr. Kenton said that there are committed partners dedicated to the project who communicate, collaborate and share a sense of responsibility for its success. The project enjoys strong support from the City of Scappoose, Columbia County and Legislative leadership. There is strong interest from the federal Economic Development Administration for the partners to submit grant proposals to support the project. Funding for both the property purchase and on-going operations are in place, and good progress has been made on the property purchase, upgrades, and site access. Kenton said that Oregon Tech is getting a good value on the property, and that there is minimal financial exposure for university. There is also a tremendous upside for faculty research, student internships/involvement and other partnerships with industry and university/college partners. He noted that the purchase has complied with the Board’s earlier requirement that the investment be limited in this project to no more than $1.75M.

“No project showcases industry-academic-government alignment more than the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center,” said Chris Harder, director of Business Oregon. “The Center has the potential to create a lasting economic asset for Oregon, and help to transform this region’s manufacturing industry.”

Kenton said that the R&D business launch of OMIC will commence in 2017, and is leveraging the experience gained during the startup and evolution of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Sheffield, UK. The AMRC started with humble beginnings and a limited set of industry partners, and now boasts a 400-acre research and training campus with over 70 industry partners and annual revenues of $100M. The University of Sheffield was a 3rd tier university prior to starting the AMRC, and now enjoys a tier 1 reputation and associated revenue.

Gregg Meyer, PCC’s temporary director of its OMIC Training Center said, “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fundamentally integrate hands-on learning into college education in a manner that has not been seen in decades. The earn-as-you-learn model will help bring career-training opportunities available to community members from Oregon’s entire NW region.”

Dr. Kenton thanked several people for their support and advocacy for the OMIC, including Bill Gerry from Boeing; Chris Harder, director of Business Oregon; and Senator Betsy Johnson; and to Scott Parker for the land donation needed for the new access road. “It simply would not have been possible without the work and contributions from these key individuals,” Kenton said.

Chair of Oregon Tech’s Finance and Facilities Committee of the Board, Steve Sliwa said, “Oregon Tech has done an excellent job engaging with partners and keeping Board members informed at every step of the way. It’s pretty clear that this is a great project, and I’m proud to see how hard Oregon Tech’s administration and all of the partners have worked to bring this very quickly to reality.”

After some discussion, the Board unanimously approved the OMIC R&D project and authorized staff to proceed in closing the transaction and opening the R&D facility for the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center in Scappoose, Oregon as of January 1, 2017.

In other business at the Board meeting today, members:

  • Approved interim president Kenton’s goals for his remaining period in this role.
  • Approved 2017 Board meeting dates.
  • Reported on new executive level hires, including Brian Fox as vice president for Finance and Administration; and Dr. Steve Neiheisel as vice president for Strategic Enrollment Management; preliminary fall enrollment updates; and general university operations updates.
  • Heard an update on Oregon Tech’s search for a new president. 


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 degree programs in engineering, health technologies, management, technology, communication, and applied sciences that prepare students to be effective participants in their professional, public, and international communities through hands-on, applied and relevant learning. Oregon Tech has a full-service, residential campus in Klamath Falls, an urban, industry-focused campus in Wilsonville, and an Online Campus. Visit www.oit.edu to learn more about Oregon Institute of Technology. 

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