Developing & Attracting Talent


While Columbus & Bartholomew County, Indiana, is today home to a highly-productive, available workforce, our community is also keenly focused on developing a pipeline of talent to meet the future needs of employers. As such, Columbus is home to the first K-12 Project-Based Learning magnet school in the nation.

Students at the two Columbus Signature Academy elementary schools, middle school, and New Tech High School campus work collaboratively using technology and project-based learning to solve authentic problems and create real-world projects. From grades 7-12, “Project Lead The Way” programming promotes critical thinking, innovation, and real-world problem solving skills through hands-on, project-based, pre-engineering STEM* coursework.

The Columbus Area Career Connection Center (C4) is a regional center for providing vocational/technical training to over 3,000 students, from 5 counties and 11 high schools. Our high schools provide students with dozens of “seamless (school-to-work) pathway” options, preparing our students for tomorrow’s advanced manufacturing and science, technology, engineering and math occupations.

Leader in K-12 STEM Education: With over 300 schools, Indiana leads the nation in “Project Lead the Way” programming, offering students in Grades 7-12 hands-on, project-based, pre-engineering & other STEM-related coursework.  The Columbus, Indiana region leads the state in PLTW enrollment, growing from 500 in 2007 to more than 3,500 students today.  With these successes, project-based STEM education elements are now offered in local schools beginning as early as Kindergarten, filling the workforce pipeline for tomorrow’s manufacturers.

Vocational / Technical Training: Columbus, Indiana is a regional center for high school Vocational/Technical training.  The Columbus Area Career Connection (C4) provides training to over 3,000 students from 5 counties and 11 high schools each year.  More than 600 internships & job-shadowing opportunities are offered, and dual-credit agreements with local universities offer Engineering Manufacturing Technology programs, including:

    • Engineering CAD
    • Precision Machining (CNC, Lathe, Etc)
    • Pre-Engineering
    • Welding

Higher Education / Advanced Training

For higher education and advanced training, Columbus is the proud home of a joint campus of Indiana University-Purdue University of Columbus (IUPUC), Ivy Tech Community College, and the Purdue College of Technology.

These three state institutions partnered with the community to create the Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence (AMCE), which houses thirteen manufacturing-focused teaching laboratories and college degree and certification programs.

Unique Education Support for Manufacturers

  • Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence (AMCE): Opened in 2012, the AMCE is utilized by our city’s higher education providers, in partnership with local industry, to offer college degrees & certification programs.  AMCE houses 13 teaching laboratories, including:
    • Materials & Heat Treatment
    • Mechanical Engineering
    • Mechatronics
    • Metrology
    • PLC Systems
    • Robotics
  • Focused Higher Education: Columbus is home to a shared campus of Indiana University-Purdue University of Columbus (IUPUC), Purdue College of Technology, and Ivy Tech Community College.  Each of these state schools offer relevant, local manufacturing certificate and degree program coursework to meet the needs of area employers, including B.S. Mechanical Engineering, A.S. Mechanical Engineering Technology, MSSC certifications, and many more.  The flagship campus of I.U. is less than 40 miles away in Bloomington, and engineering powerhouses, Purdue and Rose Hulman Institute, are within a 2-hour drive.
  • Achievement: 40% of local adults hold a Bachelor’s Degree or higher.  An additional 25% of local adults possess an Associate’s Degree or some college.