Oklahoma State University unveiled a new initiative to enhance workforce development and expand on OSUIT’s hands-on industry-focused learning model across the state: OSU Polytech.
The OSU Polytech initiative will align OSU programs systemwide with industry needs to expand innovative STEM curricula, integrate AI technology into programming and continue OSU’s long history of building Oklahoma’s workforce.
The announcement was made Tuesday morning at the Helmrich Research Center on the OSU-Tulsa campus, where OSU President Dr. Kayse Shrum was joined by speakers including OSU/A&M Regent Chair Joe Hall, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., and Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief David Hill.
"We are excited to announce the launch of OSU Polytech. OSU Polytech will be the state and industry’s go-to partner to grow the workforce needed to expand Oklahoma’s high-tech economy. We will harness all the resources and assets throughout the OSU system to expand OSUIT’s education model of hands-on skills-based technology-focused learning to every corner of the state," Dr. Shrum said.
The event, sponsored by Explorer Pipeline, featured STEM demonstrations from OSUIT, OSU-OKC and OSU-Tulsa — including VR training modules, fiber splicing, a robotic arm, examples of how engineers work in the energy sector, and OSUIT’s new state of the art mobile Go-Lab for on the road industry training and demonstrations.
The event also included a workforce development panel featuring:
- Chuck Hoskin Jr. | Cherokee Nation Principal Chief
- Dr. Paula Marshall | CEO, The Bama Companies
- Leigh Anne Strahler | President and COO, Public Service Company of Oklahoma
- Bailey Siegfried | VP, Culture, Communication and HR, NORDAM
- Ryan Plotkin | President and CEO, M-D Building Products
Through OSUIT, OSU has delivered technology-based education for over seven decades, with a job-placement rate of nearly 90% for its graduates and a median pay range for alumni between $50,000 and $55,000.
OSU Senior Vice President for System Affairs Kyle Wray said that OSU Polytech will align with the We Are Land-Grant strategic plan released in the fall of 2022 — a plan Wray said is deeply rooted in the university’s land-grant mission that serves the public and advances STEM education and workforce development throughout Oklahoma.
“In Okmulgee, our OSUIT campus has been the undisputed leader in applied technical education in Oklahoma. We established OSUIT over 7 decades ago to offer students applied technical education with hands-on, skills-based training. Because of their practical training, OSUIT students are highly sought after by employers. Just this year, College Values Online named OSUIT the most affordable education for STEM for 2023,” Wray said.
Initially, the initiative will focus on expanding OSUIT’s footprint in the Tulsa area, Oklahoma City, and other parts of the state. The existing academic structures of the institutions remain unchanged, and each institution will maintain its respective accreditation.
“As regents, we support programs that benefit our students and help our state,” Hall said. “OSU Polytech builds on the successes of OSUIT’s industry-driven approach. It enables partnering between businesses, industries, public and private organizations, and multiple governments for a single purpose — workforce development. With strong partnerships, we can provide companies with a capable workforce from day one. As regents, we believe OSU Polytech will benefit our students, citizens, industries, and the state.”
OSU will launch an industry leadership advisory group to support OSU Polytech, along with market insight to identify academic and degree programs to grow the workforce to meet industry demands.
The council will have six committees that represent the following key industry sectors for Oklahoma:
- Aerospace and Aviation
- Advanced Manufacturing
- Energy and Power
- Health Care and Life Sciences
- Information Technology and Telecommunications
- Supply Chain and Operations
“There is a gap that needs to be filled in Oklahoma's workforce,” said Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell. “For Oklahoma to be open for business, we must prioritize science and technology. OSU is a proven leader in advanced technology education, and OSU Polytech will empower our workforce to meet industry demands and grow the state economy.”