By TAMMY ALLEN
ORTHOWORX DIRECTOR OF MARKETING
High school students, administrators, guidance counselors, teachers and additional key guests participated in OrthoWorx Innovative Careers Pathway Program—Machining Your Future. This new program is slated to happen twice a year, in the spring and in the fall. During the recent spring program participants learned about orthopedic industry career options and local technical skills development pathways available to prepare for them.
“It is important that students are aware of the various career options available to them through the orthopedic economic cluster in Warsaw. These opportunities pay well, and many are for middle skills professionals, requiring some post secondary training but not a traditional four-year college degree. These offer great opportunities for students pursuing dual credit, advanced skills, certificate and associates programs through local resources. For individuals who may aspire to continue to engineering or other professional careers, these can also be a first step on that pathway,” states Sheryl Conley, OrthoWorx President and Chief Executive Officer.
The Innovative Careers Pathway Program includes a three-pronged approach to educate about a pathway to the innovative, orthopedic industry. The initial plan is to focus on individuals that work directly with and influence high school students, including teachers, guidance counselors and administrators. Next, the focus will shift to students who are enrolled in advanced manufacturing programs. Looking forward, that focus will expand to include parents of the students in those programs. The long-term vision for the program is to continue to grow regionally throughout the state to educate students about the orthopedic industry and the pathway that could lead to lifelong opportunities.
About 100 individuals have participated in the program so far, through last year’s pilot program and this year’s spring program. Most of the key administrators, guidance counselors and teachers have been reached. The spring program also included some high school students enrolled in Warsaw Area Career Center machining and welding programs. “We are learning from their participation in the program and using their input to form future programs. An example of this is our plan to focus on incorporating their parents into the program,” states Conley.
“Both the student and adult participants of the recent program affirmed there is a misperception about orthopedic manufacturing, about it being an unclean environment, loud and distracting. Participants commented on the cleanliness of the orthopedic companies and were surprised by the various career options discussed during the program,” states Conley. Presentations were followed by tours, including host companies DePuy Synthes Joint Reconstruction, Paragon Medical, a supplier to the medical device industry, and also Ivy Tech Orthopedic & Advanced Manufacturing Training Center and WACC. Educational exhibits were comprised of Grace College, Trine University and Ivy Tech Community College.
Education and workforce development have been strategic areas of focus for OrthoWorx since formation in 2009. The Indiana medical device industry is the largest component of the overall life sciences economy in Indiana. OrthoWorx was formed in 2009 to improve the environment for success for an industry cluster based in Warsaw, that accounts for approximately 13,000 direct and indirect jobs, and contributes more than $3 billion in value annually to the Indiana economy. Through programs like this, OrthoWorx continues its work through the OrthoWorx University/Industry Advisory Board to create stronger, mutually beneficial connections between Indiana’s higher education assets and the orthopedic medical device industry cluster in northern Indiana.