The OrthoWorx Board of Directors announced today a commitment of up to $475,000 to fund a series of major initiatives designed to improve workforce development in northern Indiana for the region’s orthopedic industry by improving the attraction and retention of students from key Indiana colleges and universities.
The multi-pronged program was developed in conjunction with and approved by the OrthoWorx University/Industry Advisory Board, which has representation from the orthopedic industry and the nine colleges and universities that are OrthoWorx members, according to a provided press release.
“The orthopedic industry and the northern Indiana region are in a worldwide competition for talent. Indiana colleges and universities produce excellent graduates, but many leave the state to build their careers,” Sheryl Conley, OrthoWorx president and CEO, is quoted as saying in the provided press release.
“Over the past year we’ve been developing a comprehensive program to link our industry and university members more closely together, to build a deeper understanding of each others’ needs and capabilities. Ours is a global, growing industry that employs amazing technology to improve the lives of millions. We think more Indiana students need to know this career opportunity exists right here. The commitment by the boards of the Orthopedics Capital Foundation and OrthoWorx will provide us the resources to jump-start the effort to build a system of sustainable connections between our industry members, the Warsaw region, students and faculty.”
According to Conley, the planned initiatives include:
1. Pursuing an experiential learning initiative among its industry and academic members designed to expand internship, co-op and project experiences; exploring faculty externships and other means of giving professors a real-world view into the industry’s technologies and business challenges.
2. Commissioning a study to identify unmet needs for education and talent/skills based on current needs, expected retirements and projected changes in the medical device business in the future.
3. Creating a value chain model that illustrates the complexity and scope of the orthopedic industry and highlights for students and faculty the academic disciplines required to participate at each stop in the value chain; the model may generate opportunities for experiential learning and innovation.
4. Building an online portal that provides university students and faculty the means to augment their education with the real-world knowledge and experience represented by OrthoWorx industry members; this would provide each party with stronger connections to facilitate experiential learning opportunities.
5. Developing and launching initiatives for young professionals designed to deepen their connections to the community and its cultural, educational and service offerings.
6. Developing an initiative that builds greater awareness and impact among students and faculty academic member institutions regarding the positive community attributes and career opportunities available in northern Indiana with OrthoWorx industry members.
According to Randy Kilburn, vice president, North America Marketing, DePuy Synthes Companies, UIAB industry co-chair, these steps are part of a broader effort to create stronger links between the orthopedic industry and Indiana’s colleges and universities.
“Academic research in the field of orthopedic medicine developed early on in Europe and on the East Coast of the U.S.,” he said. “Consequently, the links between our industry and Indiana higher education have never been as strong as they could be. This effort through OrthoWorx to building and sustaining those connections offers real opportunity for our region and for the economy of the state of Indiana.”
Bob Bernhard, vice president for research at the University of Notre Dame and the UIAB academia co-chair, agrees that mutual education could lead to greater collaboration.
“Those of us in academia have had a longstanding interest in working more closely with the orthopedic industry, but for a variety of reasons the connections have been more episodic than ongoing,” he said. “We believe we now have a vehicle for creating a sustainable connection that can lead to more and richer opportunities for our students while providing more opportunities for the orthopedics companies to recruit the outstanding talent that is graduating from Indiana universities.”
Preliminary work on many of the projects is already underway with roll-out of selected elements of the plan expected in the first quarter of 2015 and continuing for the balance of the year.
Conley said that while many of these activities involve orthopedic industry companies, OrthoWorx expects there to be many benefits for the community in expanded university engagement.
“As an organization, we have and we will engage university partners in studies that we hope will lead to civic improvements,” said Conley. “By the same token, we expect that better connections and an increased university presence in our community can lead to new and productive collaborations with businesses in general, area schools and other organizations.”
Formed in 2009 with initial funding from the Lilly Endowment, OrthoWorx (www.orthoworxindiana.com
) is a community-based initiative that works strategically and collaboratively with the orthopedic industry and other stakeholders to ensure that the Warsaw region continues to reap the social and economic benefits that derive from its position as The Orthopedic Capital of the World.®
The Orthopedics Capital Foundation http://orthoworxindiana.com/about-us/aboutorthoworx/ was created in 2009 to enable philanthropic support for the OrthoWorx initiative in enhancing the Warsaw region’s economy and quality of life through charitable and educational activities.
(Story By The Times Union)