Automation Labs Get Major Upgrade

Automation Labs Get Major Upgrade

| By: Britten, Casey

Engineering students now have the use of two state-of-the-art labs, featuring the most current technology being used in industry, valued at nearly $1 million. Two key labs in the engineering wing were upgraded in summer 2021, bringing in new automation and robotics equipment.

The 8,400 square-foot Electromechanical Lab (Room F144) is a dedicated area where automation students can take part in self-guided, hands-on work. This space, valued at $672,000, now features the most prevalent technology used by local employers, including a hydraulic lab as well as stations for programmable logic controllers (PLC) and motor control centers. The equipment manufacturer provided a significant educational discount, and FVTC staff developed custom training equipment incorporating the PLC hardware.

In addition, the Robotics Lab (Room F165) features updated robotics trainers, motors and drives as well as an enlarged smart manufacturing lab. Technology in this space is valued at around $320,000.

These enhancements are in addition to the investment in apprenticeship labs over the past two years. In all, upgrades total nearly $3 million.

“This is an incredibly in-demand area,” says Dean of Manufacturing Steve Straub. “Employers are looking for people with these skills, so the college has really made a commitment to deliver. It’s pretty hard to beat.”

“The lab at FVTC is amazing,” says Electro-Mechanical Technology graduate Andy Tysver. “There’s equipment for just about anything you can think of—electromechanical, pneumatic, troubleshooting. You get to work on the actual equipment that you’re going to work with in real life.”

In addition to the technology, nine full-time automation instructors are on staff to provide expertise and professional guidance for students. “Not many schools in the area—whether two-year or four-year—have nine full-time faculty in automation,” says Steve. “They bring phenomenal industry experience to the table.”

Employers and students alike appreciate the upgrades. Students in these programs are a mix of traditional program students and employed workers looking to upskill. Around 20 area companies work with the college to train current employees in these areas and grow their own talent. Employees train on-site one day per week and work the other four days.

Learn more about engineering programs at Fox Valley Tech >>