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Toyota Donates Erlanger Lab To Become STEAM Education Center

Posted On March 20, 2017

By Mike Perleberg

An interior rendering of the Ignite Institute at Roebling Innovation Center, to be housed in a laboratory building being donated to Boone County Schools by Toyota North America. Image courtesy Toyota.

(Erlanger, Ky.) – Toyota is donating a facility at its Erlanger campus to become an innovative educational center serving the region.

In 2014, Toyota announced it would relocate its North American headquarters in northern Kentucky to Plano, Texas. Most of the 1,550 jobs there would go to Texas, while several hundred others would shift to Georgetown, Kentucky or Michigan. Toyota is still in the process of relocating some of the remaining jobs from Erlanger, a process which should be completed by the end of 2017.

The fate of one of the buildings at the Erlanger headquarters is now known. The automobile manufacturing company announced Friday that it is donating the 183,000-square-foot Quality and Production Engineering Laboratory to develop a STEAM-focused education center to serve the Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati region.

The school will be named the Ignite Institute at Roebling Innovation Center – after famed engineer John A. Roebling, who designed the iconic suspension bridge in Cincinnati. Toyota calls it an enduring gift to fuel the economic engine of the tri-state with education designed to inspire the next generation of local workers to be creative and engaged, highly skilled, tech-savvy and work-ready problem solvers.

“Since announcing the transition from Erlanger, we collaborated with civic, business and education leaders on how we could best serve the region,” said Mike Goss, general manager, Toyota Social Innovation. “We hope to create a lasting positive impact through this school, helping prepare students for the next generation of jobs. We invite other companies and businesses, and the region’s civic leaders to help make the school a success.”

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin poses with members of the Ryle High School Brainy Bots robotics team on Friday, March 17. Photo by Toyota North America.

Boone County Schools will own and manage the center, which will have capacity for up to 1,000 9th through 12th graders. It could serve students in northern Kentucky with public school dollars, as well as those in other urban and rural parts of the tri-state with private funding. Classes are expected to be hosted there starting with the 2019-2020 school year.

“This school will include the best aspects of innovative schools around the country,” said Dr. Randy Poe, Superintendent, Boone County Schools. “The entire school will be based on a project-based learning, real industry-case methodology. We want students to be empowered, so that when they graduate they have the opportunities of a lifetime.”

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin announced a $6.8 million Work Ready Skills initiative grant to Boone County Schools to adapt the engineering lab into a school.

“It is exciting to see dynamic regional partnerships coalescing around the new Work Ready Skills Initiative, as we seek to transform workforce training in the Commonwealth,” said Bevin. “I applaud this innovative collaboration between Toyota and local education, business and community partners. This project serves as additional proof that Kentucky is on track to become the nation’s unparalleled hub of engineering and manufacturing excellence.”

According to Toyota, the building on Atlantic Avenue comes with expansive lab and engineering workspaces, high bay equipment areas, office spaces, high ceilings to accommodate robotics/automation, several mezzanines, and multiple elevators. The gift also includes approximately 22 acres and adjacent parking lots.

Learn more about the Ignite Institute at Roebling Innovation Center and watch a video at www.boone.k12.ky.us/igniteinstitute.

Toyota’s Quality and Production Engineering Laboratory in Erlanger. Photo by Toyota North America.

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