UA receives RAPIDS grant from State of Ohio to support workforce development


The University of Akron (UA) strongly contributes to Ohio’s workforce development in the manufacturing industry, and a grant from the State of Ohio and the Department of Higher Education will help UA continue its efforts by augmenting the University’s new Center for Precision Manufacturing.

Today, UA was officially awarded $148,169.34 from the Department of Higher Education’s Regionally Aligned Priorities in Delivering Skills (RAPIDS) program.

Dr. Siamak Farhad, principal investigator of the grant who serves as interim director of the Center for Precision Manufacturing and associate professor of mechanical engineering, says the grant money will be used to purchase a unique grinding machine for the Center that is unlike any other used at similar facilities on university campuses in the United States.

“We are so appreciative of these funds because they will support unique research and education opportunities for the University of Akron faculty and students,” says Farhad. “This will ultimately benefit the manufacturing industry, which needs a talented workforce. I would like to thank Dr. Ajay Mahajan, associate dean for research and industrial engagement for the College of Engineering and Polymer Science, for his continued help in establishing the Center for Precision Manufacturing and securing funds for it.”

In a letter to UA, Randy Gardner, chancellor for the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE), wrote, “Your engagement in the RAPIDS program will help improve Ohio’s workforce development capacity, strengthen business and industry partnerships, and train Ohio’s workers for the jobs they will encounter in our 21st century economy.”

As part of the RAPIDS program, the ODHE makes strategic regional investments in equipment and facilities to develop and support postsecondary institutions’ workforce development projects that enhance the economic growth of students and businesses. The investments will directly impact the ability of the state of Ohio to retain and expand existing businesses, attract new enterprises, and further entrepreneurship by addressing regional talent and workforce needs.

In April, UA has officially launched The Center for Precision Manufacturing — a research center for faculty and graduate students to develop new finishing technologies for the manufacturing industry. These process technologies such as grinding, hard machining and superfinishing are the backbone of many manufacturing companies today but have not experienced much innovation in the last few years. The Center will benefit industry by improving traditional manufacturing processes while providing a learning environment for engineering students.

Media contact: Alex Knisely, 330-972-6477 or