Jim Bowling reports that tomorrow, August 15th, should be the day that 2 way traffic on Summit Street is fully restored.
I think he’s been reluctant to over-commit to that date since it’s really up to the contractors to finish their work — but he’s confirmed for me this afternoon that it’s still looking good to re-open the new and improved Summit Street to traffic — so he have me the green light to spread the news.
There’s still contractor work that will be done, particularly the landscaping, but those activities should stay out of the street and not disrupt traffic too much.
A project of this magnitude and impact deserves some Olympic style “project ending ceremony” but for now it will be nice to pass this milestone — just in time for the students to return to campus.
Here’s some more details from the City/KSU Project Team
With so much in the news about the future of the economy — particularly the region’s manufacturing economy — being built on using robotics technology to drive gains in productivity and the bottom line, it’s great to see KSU at the forefront of that effort with their expanded courses, degrees, and certifications in a brand new “mechatronics engineering” program offered at the Kent campus.
Mechatronics combines mechanical engineering and electronics to leverage computer technology to operate robots and automated systems in manufacturing.
Essentially, mechatronics is the brains behind all that robotics brawn, accuracy, and speed — and KSU is ready to provide plenty of graduates that are prepared to operate those high tech systems in the work force.
KSU is also making sure no employee gets left behind and they’re offering non-credit industrial robotics training for employees already out in the work force who need those same skills to stay relevant in their profession.
I guess KSU isn’t satisfied with their $3.4 billion impact in the northeast Ohio economy so they’re launching new programs like mechatronics that industry leaders are clamoring for to grow their business.
Here’s a link and recent new item from the new mechatronics program:
Mechatronics Engineering added to Kent State Fall 2018 BS Programs
The college also recently moved three of its concentrations under the Bachelor of Science in Applied Engineering to their own majors, which means the college now offers a Bachelor of Science in:
- Computer Engineering Technology
- Mechanical Engineering Technology
- Mechatronics Engineering Technology
The Bachelor of Science in Applied Engineering still exists with two concentrations: Applied Engineering and Technology Management and new Fall 2018 – Foundry Technology.
The College is also offering non-credit FANUC Industrial Robotics training. Upon successful completion of the course, participants will receive the FANUC Robotics CERT I industry credential.
So now the questions is, what is the difference between engineering and engineering technology? The line between the two is becoming more blurred since responsibilities overlap more now than ever. In general, an engineer has a theoretical understanding of how and why something is happening. The curriculum for engineers includes high-level math, theory and conceptual design. Whereas, the curriculum for engineering technology programs focus on the implementation of engineering principles to solve problems. Engineering technology tends to be more hands-on and application oriented teaching students to operate, maintain, trouble-shoot, inspect and test systems.
According to a 2015 Deloitte report based on U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics and Gallup Survey, by 2025, 3.4 million manufacturing jobs will be needed nationally to manage growth. Approximately, 2.7 million baby boomers are expected to retire and an estimated 700,000 new manufacturing jobs due to economic expansion will be created, but only 1.4 million jobs are likely to be filled. This suggests 2 million will remain unfilled, due to a lack of workers garnering appropriate skills and knowledge.
When thinking about industrial robots used in automated systems, we traditionally think about the automotive industry. However, a recent article by ATI Industrial Automation stated that almost 11,000 robots valued at $507 million were shipped to North American customers during the first three months of 2018 with substantial growth in non-automotive areas. Life sciences experienced a 262 percent increase while plastics/rubber (130 percent), and food/consumer goods (64 percent). This suggests that a skilled workforce is necessary across many different industries to design efficient, cost effective systems and keep them operational.
In addition to academic clout, CAE student organizations enhance learning by allowing students to apply their knowledge in real-life scenarios. The Robotics Club annually builds a competition robot that in theory would be capable of traversing the surface of Mars and digging into its crust to gather soil for testing. They test their design every May at the Kennedy Space Center. The Xtreme Bots team builds robot(s) that face other teams’ robots in battle. The team participates in competitions in Dayton, Ohio in fall and spring. Students in the College are encouraged to volunteer at the First Tech Challenge robotics qualifying tournament for middle and high school students. The College has hosted this event every February for the past three years.
For the better part of the last 2 years, construction zones, traffic detours, and an armada of heavy equipment have made Summit Street a “no-drive” zone for anyone short on patience or long on common sense.
While the end is just below the horizon, the City and KSU engineers predict more of the same for most of 2018 before the sun sets on this $18 million traffic safety improvement project.
In the meantime, time marches on and a new student housing project is rolling in on Summit Street at the Presbyterian Church property just west of the KSU Power Plant.
The privately owned Church property sits on prime real estate given its close proximity to the center of campus — which is why the a couple of years ago the Church leaders decided to get in the student housing business.
Churches aren’t often in the business of building student housing so the Church leaders sought out a private developer and forged a partnership which would add some 380 new student housing beds on the Church property.
The Church gets a more reliable income stream to carry out their mission, and easy access to 380 potential new parishioners — and the students get a very convenient place to live.
It’s a tight site for 380 new units but that’s nothing good architects and prayers can’t fix.
When all is said and done, the Church will be a little harder to see sitting behind the new apartment building on what is currently the front lawn of the Church but the Church leaders want everyone to know that they’re staying open as a place of worship.
It’s never easy to construct a new 380 unit high rise apartment building on a postage stamp site, but throw it in the middle of the Summit Street reconstruction project and you’ve got a recipe for frustrations.
The various construction project managers do their best not to trip over each other but despite the best intentions it’s a complicated area with trucks coming and going in all directions — and don’t forget the those 27,000 students, faculty and staff that are trying to navigate the obstacle course as well.
Fortunately, the spring semester is wrapping up and once we get past graduation, the contractors should have a little less thru-traffic to contend with.
Overall, things have been going as well as can be expected under the circumstances but no doubt some frustrations have started to build.
There’s also been some recent concerns with the student housing trucks causing some damage on the newly installed streets and sidewalks along Summit Street.
Please know that we routinely remind the contractors that they are responsible for repairing any damage they cause and our staff routinely inspect the area to keep track of possible damage.
Obviously it’s a very busy corridor and it’s hard to do anything that doesn’t affect someone but the City and Kent State staff are on the site daily trying to keep things moving as safely and productively as possible.
As you may recall, our citywide housing study noted that the Kent student housing market was nearing a saturation point due to the projects recently constructed and with more projects in the pipeline, e.g., 2 projects off Horning Road, a project at the Presbyterian Church property on Summit Street, and even a prospective renovation project at Whitehall Terrace.
A recent review of the current lease-up rates, compared to 2016 and 2017, suggests a distinct softening in the student housing market — without any of the prospective new projects even on the market yet.
With KSU enrollment at the Kent campus also slightly down, this is certainly a housing trend to keep an eye on.