JOHNSTOWN, Ohio — An Innovation lab at Johnstown-Monroe High School is open thanks to a grant from Meta and an engineering and robotics lab sponsored by Intel and C-TEC is in development. The Innovation Lab includes button makers, laser etchers, decal makers and much more. 

What You Need To Know

  • In 2022, Intel announced plans for an initial investment of more than $20 billion to construct two new leading-edge chip factories in Licking County

  • The company has promised thousands of jobs and economic investment for central Ohio

  • They also have said they plan to support a range of education initiatives to help build the local talent pipeline

  • The company is making headway on one of those promises

Yuli Staneart, a junior at the school, is one of many students who will benefit. 

“I think many students are excited for this opportunity because it opens a lot of doors for them,” Staneart said. “It's really going to allow them to really dig into their creativity and really establish, hey, maybe this is something that I really want to do in life. So I think it's a great opportunity.”

Yuli Staneart, a junior at Johnstown-Monroe High School stands in the soon-to-come Engineering and Robotics Lab sponsored by Intel and C-TEC. (Spectrum News 1/Taylor Bruck)

A ribbon-cutting ceremony in late February celebrated the grand opening of the lab. Lt. Gov. Jon Husted was in attendance along with employees from tech giants, like Intel and Meta, and students and administrators from area schools. 

Between the two rooms, about $500,000 worth of technology will help provide opportunities for students to get ahead and open doors to careers in STEM and more. The Innovation Lab will allow students like Frieda Zirille to learn skills needed to eventually be a graphic designer.  

“[It’s] such a cool opportunity,” Zirille said. “I'm looking forward to it. I want to take a class next semester. So the first semester of my senior year, I'm super excited because I want to major in graphic design and I feel like this is a great hands-on opportunity versus the online classes I was taking my junior year, so I'm very excited to learn how to use everything.”

Angel King, the principal of Johnstown-Monroe High School, said the technology of today will help train the workforce of tomorrow. 

“They'll also be learning the hands-on skills that they're going to need to actually go to work at those corporations as soon as they graduate,” King said. “They'll come out with certifications and they're going to be able to get a job readily and not have to go into debt with student loans.”

King said about 10 classes and 14 certifications will be added within the next few years. 

“They're trying to make the best possible workforce here in central Ohio so that we don't have a lot of people that are going to need to move in,” King said. “We're actually going to be able to have our students take those jobs.”

Johnstown is a community of just over 5,000 people that is now a neighbor to multi-billion-dollar companies. Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said he knows some people haven’t been happy with the expected change to the landscape of the area, but hopes they have a change of heart. 

“I know when you have the largest economic development project in the world, it creates some disruption,” said Lt. Gov. Jon Husted. “And I think the people in the community are now starting to see the upside of it, that you have literally some of the most high-tech companies in the world investing in your own community, in your own children, helping them become students who have great skills that are going to have great career opportunities, can earn credentials and college credits while they're in high school and it's going to be an amazing lift for the school and the students who attend classes here.”

He said he thinks it will make school more appealing to some students and allow them to not have to leave the state to work at tech giants like Intel and make a good salary. 

Students at Johnstown-Monroe High School stand in the newly opened Innovation Lab sponsored by Meta. (Spectrum News 1/Taylor Bruck)

“One of the things I think is going to be fun to watch is how much more students are energized to go to school because they have some really cool things that they can do here,” Husted said. “They can learn how to use technology, but also make it part of the fun of going to school by building, you know, making banners for their school mascot for the Friday night football games and things like that.”

Husted said the labs are a prime example of a partnership between education and business. Companies investing in students so that students like Staneart can one day invest in them. 

“I'm so thankful that Intel is here and the way that they're really presenting themselves, it shows that they are here to help us and I feel like they're just going to bring so much growth to this school and this community,” Staneart said. “I feel like this is really going to put Johnstown on the map.”

The Innovation Lab is in operation this school year and the Engineering & Robotics Lab sponsored by Intel and C-TEC will be open in August for the start of the 2024-25 school year.