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Cleveland-based technology organization connects region’s talented minds

By Douglas J. Guth  |  Photo by Jim Tabaczynski

Northeast Ohio has a long history of technology-based innovation.

The Baker Motor Vehicle Co., for example, produced electric automobiles in Cleveland during the turn of the 20th century. Oberlin-educated Charles Martin Hall discovered an inexpensive method to isolate pure aluminum from its compounds. And as most every grade school student is taught, prolific inventor Thomas Edison was born right here in the Buckeye State.

The North Coast’s flare for the creative is particularly crucial today as the regional economy shifts into the high-tech sector. Fortunately, there is an organizing group in town dedicated to bringing those talented minds together. 

The Cleveland Technical Societies Council (CTSC) represents 28 professional societies and organizations that serve local scientific, technical, engineering, and education professions. Founded in 1942, CTSC strives for collaboration among members, promotes STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education at all levels, and recognizes outstanding work by professionals and students.

There aren’t trade secrets being offered but the sharing of ideas and innovation.

The nonprofit acts as an umbrella for about 3,000 to 4,000 pros in fields from aeronautics to hazardous materials management to tribology (the science of friction, lubrication and wear). Many of these professional societies are without staff, so CTSC helps them set up joint meetings among themselves or with like-minded technical organizations. The umbrella group also maintains a speakers bureau of technical presentations. A “speakers sampler,” meanwhile, allows council members to preview area experts to determine if they’re the right fit for respective member organizations. 

“We’re basically acting as a collaborator among these different societies,” Ron Czaplicki, who was named CTSC president in June, says.

CTSC also coordinates an areawide program that provides $20,000 in merit-based scholarships to area high school seniors who plan to pursue science-based careers. In May the council awarded 22 scholarships to top STEM students during its annual scholarship award event held in Cleveland. Among the companies involved with the program were manufacturer Voss Industries, fluid systems firm Swagelok, and chemical company Lubrizol. 

Students receiving funding were selected by their teachers in their junior years of high school for a CTSC workshop aimed at those interested in technical professions, Czaplicki says.

The scholarships, funded by local businesses and professional societies, align with the council’s stated goal of encouraging a career in science-related fields, says Czaplicki, vice president of Barber & Hoffman, a Cleveland structural engineering consulting firm.

To this end, CTSC brings volunteer STEM professionals to high schools to talk about their work. In addition, the group promotes its efforts to institutions of higher learning, including Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland State University.

“The idea is to keep technical fields at the forefront of people’s minds,” Czaplicki says. “The more exposure we bring, the better.”

For those already entrenched in science-centric industries, CTSC provides a template for them to operate within, the council president says. The group keeps technical professionals talking to one another, either through get-togethers or speaker events that trumpet the state-of-the-art achievements emerging from the Cleveland area.

“There aren’t trade secrets being offered, but the sharing of ideas and innovation are,” Czaplicki says. 

The umbrella group and its members will also endorse each other’s events. For instance, the council will promote or attend a meeting held by the Cleveland Engineering Society (CES), with CES doing the same in the opposite direction. Helping the smaller group can only be a boon for a region working hard to find both the current and next generation of engineering and technical professionals needed in the local workforce, Czaplicki says.

The idea is to keep technical fields at the forefront of people’s minds. The more exposure we bring, the better.

“We have such a diverse knowledge base in this area,” he says. “We’re celebrating that (diversity) while enabling communication among our different groups.”

Publicity is needed for a largely unsung sector of the economy, Czaplicki says. Those toiling behind the scenes creating technical marvels deserve notoriety; bringing them under the same roof puts them on a common course.

“It’s better to have everyone working together instead of paddling individually in little rowboats,” Czaplicki says. “We want to keep Cleveland on the map as a hub of technological activity and scientific advancement.”  

For more information: ctsc.org

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