Ivy Tech Breaks Ground for iFlex Lab, a Regional Workforce Training Facility

The regional manufacturing workforce engaged in state-of-the-art Industry 4.0 training will get a tremendous boost from a proposed new iFlex Lab at Ivy Tech Community College at South Bend-Elkhart, where they broke ground today for that part of the nearly $4-million expansion project.

Earlier today, public and private leaders and government officials gathered both virtually and in-person to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new Ivy Tech iFlex Lab. As a part of an estimated $3.8 million development and campus expansion project, the iFlex Lab will be a state-of-the-art Industry 4.0 regional manufacturing workforce training facility.

Ivy Tech South Bend – Elkhart Chancellor, David Balkin, says, “We look forward to working with the County, the LIFT Network and all of our great, local academic and industry partners to help train Elkhart and Indiana residents in Industry 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 and future technologies as we pursue our dream of transforming our region from being one of the largest manufacturing hubs in the state into being the largest manufacturing hub in the country.”

The iFlex Lab serves as the latest LIFT Network Innovation Facility nearing construction completion over the past few weeks. LIFT Network Innovation Facilities are intended to provide access to research and learning facilities to reduce the risks and costs of innovation and increase the availability of resources for education and professional development across the South Bend – Elkhart region.

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The 10,400 square-foot iFlex Lab, located in Elkhart County, will operate as a high-quality workforce training facility intended to prepare and equip current and future workers with essential skills tied to digital manufacturing operating processes and functions that will aid successful workplace adoptions of Industry 4.0. operating practices and equipment.

The iFlex lab will be equipped with state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing equipment including Fanuc robots in various applications, cooperative robotic applications, and an integrated automated manufacturing lab with associated IIoT data collection capabilities with Fanuc robots. Other capabilities include Universal cobots, a smart robotic system designed to work safely with humans. Ivy Tech is developing a new IIoT Advanced Manufacturing degree to complement the resources afforded by the iFlex Lab and credentials from the Smart Automation Credentialing Alliance.

President and CEO of the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership, Regina Emberton, tells us,  “With nearly 1-in-3 jobs in the South Bend – Elkhart region being represented by the manufacturing sector, the emergence of the iFlex Lab presents an opportunity for regional firms to tap into a state-of-the-art training facility that intends to bridge the gap between digital transformation and operational adoption within regional firms.” She adds, “As the iFlex Lab adds new digital manufacturing training equipment to their facility, collaborations between regional employers, learners, and Ivy Tech will support the Regional Partnership’s goals of increasing the number of residents with post-secondary credentials, the level of employment in high-pay trade industry clusters, ultimately improving per capita income across the region.”

Project completion for the center is slated for fall, August 2021.

The Labs for Industry Futures and Transformation (LIFT) Network was established to formalize the collaborative opportunities among the South Bend-Elkhart Region’s innovation, R&D, workforce training and educational assets to provide a comprehensive portfolio of cutting-edge resources to support advancement in the region’s key industrial sectors. Collectively those efforts will support the South Bend-Elkhart Region through the transformation to an increasingly digital and automated future, enhancing the current manufacturing base with new business models, technologies and tailored workforce training programs while accelerating new high-tech sector growth in the region. For more information about the LIFT Network, visit liftsbe.org.

LIFT Network and the associated iNDustry Labs at Notre Dame were catalyzed by a $42.4 million grant awarded to the University of Notre Dame and the South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership in 2019 from Lilly Endowment Inc.

The South Bend–Elkhart Regional Partnership is a collaboration of the economic development partners from 47 smart connected communities in Northern Indiana and Southwest Michigan. The Regional Partnership focuses on a long-term systemic approach to advance the region’s economy by aligning the efforts of various stakeholders around five key areas:

  • Educating a world-class WORKFORCE
  • Recruiting and retaining great TALENT
  • Attracting and growing new economy companies in complement to our remarkably strong manufacturing INDUSTRIES
  • Promoting INCLUSION and sparking opportunities for minorities
  • Helping ENTREPRENEURS thrive.

The Regional Partnership seeks to unify and collaborate so that together, the communities across the region work together to achieve what cannot be done individually. For more information about the Regional Partnership, visit online at: http://SouthBendElkhart.org