GOCAT 2020 News Stories

​​​​​​​MSU-WP Receives $960,000 Grant for Advanced Fabrication Technology Program​​​​​​​

Missouri State University-West Plains will receive $960,000 in Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities WORC) grant funding to support its new Advanced Fabrication Technology program.

The grant, announced Tuesday, Sept. 29, by U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), was awarded through the partnership between the U.S. Department of Labor's 9DOL) Employment and Training Administration (ETA) and the Delta Regional Authority's (DRA) Delta Workforce Program.  The grant runs from October 2020 through June 2023.

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Jim Hart holding a face shield laser cutter template.

Jim Hart, assistant professor of technology, computer information systems/computer graphics and programming at Missouri State University-West Plains and coordinator of the local Fab Lab at the Greater Ozarks Center for Advanced Technology (GOCAT), wears one of the completed face shields he created for Ozarks Medical Center (OMC) using the lab’s laser cutter. He can cut out six halos and tabs for the forehead rests from each sheet of acrylic. (Missouri State-West Plains Photo)

University donates face shields, masks, other supplies to OMC

“When called upon in times like we’re experiencing now, our service goes beyond the classroom.” – Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Dennis Lancaster

2020 April 15 by Vickie Driskell

Part of being the “community’s college” is responding to community need. That’s exactly what officials at Missouri State University-West Plains have done in recent days as the COVID-19 virus has spread further into south-central Missouri.

Faculty and staff with the technology, allied health and nursing departments have stepped up and donated several critically needed items to Ozarks Medical Center (OMC), including face shields built at the Fab Lab in the Greater Ozarks Center for Advanced Technology (GOCAT).

Dr. Dennis Lancaster, dean of academic affairs, said the effort was the result of “great minds” coming together at the same time.

“We had discussed the possibilities here at Missouri State-West Plains of what we could do to support OMC at this time, and at the same time (OMC President and CEO) Tom Keller asked Chancellor Shirley Lawler about those possibilities,” Lancaster explained.

One turned out to be the construction of 100 face shields in the Fab Lab.

Jim Hart, assistant professor of technology, computer information systems/computer graphics and programming and coordinator of the local Fab Lab, had been discussing with his Fab Lab and Fab Academy colleagues across the nation how they could respond to the pandemic.

After consultation with them and researching face shields, he said, he discovered the lab’s laser cutter would be a viable option for creating the personal protective equipment (PPE).

“The laser cutter cuts 1/4-inch thick acrylic to make the halo and forehead tab, as well as the transparency film to make the face shield that is attached to the halo,” Hart explained. “The cutting process is approximately five minutes per face shield.”

A perfect example of GOCAT’s benefits

This is just one example of what the Fab Lab and GOCAT can offer the community, Hart and Lancaster said.

“The purpose of a Fab Lab is to be a place in a community where you can learn how to make almost anything,” Hart said. “The GOCAT Fab Lab aspires to continually improve on the essence of the Fab Charter as part of a ‘global network of local labs, enabling invention by providing access to tools for digital fabrication,’” he added. “As a part of the global network, we want to be a pathway for providing ‘a community resource, offering open access for individuals, as well as scheduled access for programs.’”

“Opportunities and new frontiers, both institutionally and personally, are borne out of adversity, and this is a good example,” Lancaster added. “While we have had the capabilities demonstrated by Jim here at the GOCAT Fab Lab, we haven’t been put on the line to use them toward something so critical to our community and our fellow man.

“Technology should be used for the common good. Here’s a situation that has challenged us all to consider what technology we have in hand, what we need to know to extend ourselves and our minds in using it, and then put it into practice for, again, the good of humankind. This will be just the beginning,” he predicted.

Tom Keller, OMC president and CEO, said the support the hospital is receiving from the community is greatly appreciated.

“During this unprecedented time, we are humbled by the amount of support from our community. We are extremely fortunate to have GOCAT in West Plains and are very thankful for the PPE they have provided for us,” he said.

Other donations

In addition to the face shields, officials from the allied health and nursing departments have provided a variety of medical supplies to OMC. These include several boxes of 3M N95 masks and disposable gloves, 10 IV poles, six IV pumps, seven hospital beds, two crash carts, five thermometers, one ventilator, one defibrillator, two vital sign machines and hundreds of temperature probe covers. Several bottles of hand sanitizer also were provided, officials said.

Lancaster said it’s also worth noting that many of our nursing graduates are utilizing their skills on the front lines of this new “war” – at OMC, area urgent care and community health agencies, and other hospitals and clinics in the region.

Serving the community

This is what Missouri State-West Plains’ mission is all about – serving the community through education and, in some instances, material means.

“The mission of Missouri State-West Plains is to be ‘a teaching and learning institution providing quality post-secondary educational opportunities to the communities we serve.’ While we focus on the teaching and learning in our day-to-day activities, the last part of the mission tells we do this – to serve our communities,” Lancaster said.

“When called upon in times like we’re experiencing now, our service goes beyond the classroom. It means taking what we know and what we have in our hands and applying our knowledge and skills to serve our neighbors, all the while serving as a teaching example to our students,” he added.

New welding, fabricating equipment purchased for GOCAT

May 11, 2020

WEST PLAINS, Mo. – Officials at Missouri State University-West Plains recently purchased new welding and fabricating equipment for the Greater Ozarks Center for Advanced Technology (GOCAT).

Funds from a Delta Regional Authority rural workforce grant awarded in December 2019 were used to purchase a VRTEX 360 virtual reality welding training simulator and Torchmate CNC plasma cutting table, as well as three new lathes, officials said.

The equipment will be used to train students in advanced welding and machine fabrication. Both are essential programs that provide the hands-on training experiences needed to meet a critical workforce shortage in the manufacturing industry in south-central Missouri, university officials said.

University officials purchased the equipment through the Lincoln Electric LEEPS program to provide manufacturing certifications from the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3). Missouri State-West Plains is a certified school with NC3.

“These pieces of equipment are the first of several we are planning to secure that are built to interact with current equipment in the Fab Lab to simulate a manufacturing environment,” said Sheila Barton, director of workforce programs at Missouri State-West Plains.

“The partnership with Lincoln Electric and NC3 provides us with a unique opportunity to offer a complete suite of portable, stackable national certifications,” she added.

Details on the new equipment

The VRTEX 360 simulator creates a lifelike stage with realistic welding sounds, sparks, grinding and cooling scenarios, Barton said. It is capable of tracking and scoring key welding parameters for consistent feedback and replay training. 

The Torchmate cutting tables have a touch-based interface for hands-on-training and is integrated with CAD and CAM software, Ethernet connectivity, and digital torch height control.

Parts machined on the table can be welded and finished, allowing students to put multiple machine operating skills together, she explained.

For more information about the new equipment or the university’s advanced welding and machine fabrication programs, contact the GOCAT office at (417) 255-7784 or Roy Crouch, education and outreach specialist, at (417) 255-7785 or roycrouch@missouristate.edu.

Missouri State University-West Plains empowers students to achieve personal success and to enrich their local and global communities by providing accessible, affordable and quality educational opportunities. Missouri State-West Plains offers associate degrees and credit and non-credit courses, and serves as a delivery site for bachelor’s and master’s degrees offered by Missouri State University in Springfield.

Spring 2020


Spring has finally made the scene, but we at GOCAT, like all of you, are challenged with the events of our state and nation. Our daily course changes frequently, but we will continue to stay focused on our mission to develop the skills and abilities in today’s advanced technologies needed by our region’s residents, industrial partners, communities, and nation. Our students will be back in class, virtually, beginning March 30 and our goal is to have our seated classes back by Fall.
In the interim, the GOCAT offices will remain open during this time, but with limited hours. We are working from home and will continue to communicate via phone and email. If you need to get in touch with us, contact us by phone, (417) 255-7784 or by email, sheilafbarton@missouristate.edu or roycrouch@missouristate.edu.

Our partner OzSBI sent out their newsletter today with a list of excellent resources for manufacturing. Please check out their website, https://ozsbi.com/


We are committed to the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff. For updates on campus classes, activities and more, go to: Missouri State-West Plains' Campus Operations Updates


According to a recent survey by Thomas Insights, about two out of every three North American manufacturing companies - or 60% - have revealed through an industry survey that they are already feeling the disruptions caused by the recent coronavirus outbreak on their production facilities and supply chains. Overall, 34% of survey respondents expect business to decline, while 13% say they expect their business to grow as a result of this outbreak.

The President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America -- 15 Days to Slow the Spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) More at https://www.whitehouse.gov/


As concerns over the new coronavirus (COVID-19) continue to grow across the state and the nation, Governor Mike Parson and his administration are working each day to respond to the virus and protect the health and wellbeing of Missourians.
For up-to-date information on the COVID-19, please visit the State website


The Delta Regional Authority, Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities (WORC) 2020 will be awarding up to $1.5 million in workforce grants, which we will be applying for again to support programs at the GOCAT. Unfortunately, we were not awarded in 2019, but we feel we have a more defined program this year and will be providing more information in the near future.


The City of Springfield issued a stay-at-home ordinance effective Thursday, March 26. The Springfield Campus had already started transitioning the majority of employees to a work-from-home arrangement and moved many services online. 
At this time there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Howell County or at Missouri State-West Plains. The West Plains and Mountain Grove campuses will remain open with reduced staffing and limited hours.
We are continuing to transition as many MSU-WP employees as possible to work-from-home arrangements out of concern for the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff.
We also are preparing a plan in the event that a stay-at home ordinance is issued for West Plains or Howell County. If that happens, we will have more details on what that means for Missouri State-West Plains.


To all of our industry partners and friends, we are thinking of you and wishing all of you, your families and employees the best as we face the challenges before us. I have every confidence in our State, and community leaders to help us stay safe, strong and united during these times.