In response to the growing demand for skilled manufacturing workers in the area, Kellogg Community College this fall is launching a new Industrial Technology Program.
The program covers the field of mechatronics and includes a 30-credit certificate and 62-credit associate degree designed to train students to install, maintain and repair the complex, automated systems used by local companies. Students can enroll and start courses beginning in late September.
KCC recently purchased and installed new training equipment, thanks in part to grants from Battle Creek Unlimited, DENSO North America Foundation and in-kind contributions from Michigan Rebuild & Automation.
The equipment was installed at KCC’s Regional Manufacturing Technology Center, a facility in the Fort Custer Industrial Park which trains approximately 800 students annually in such fields as electronics, robotics, machining, maintenance, pipefitting, welding and heating and cooling. For the new program, the RMTC already had the curricula, faculty expertise and space; all it needed was the equipment.
“While we were proud of the equipment we already had, keeping up with the rapid advancements in technology is as challenging for KCC as it is for manufacturers,” said Dr. Dennis Bona, president of KCC. “Acquiring advanced equipment and trainers is a significant expense, which is why we’re so grateful to DENSO and BCU for partnering with us on this new program.”
“Students who go through this new program will be able to walk out of the RMTC and into a local plant, fully trained on high-tech equipment and ready to get to work,” said Laura McGuire, director of the RMTC. “People who install, maintain and repair this equipment must have strong problem-solving, critical thinking and mechanical reasoning skills. Through this new program, KCC will prepare people to succeed in these jobs.”
The Industrial Technology Program was developed in part to meet future needs of highly automated manufacturing facilities in Barry, Branch and Calhoun counties. Courses will begin this month and train students on equipment found in a variety of automated industries, including food processing, automotive, metal, plastics and medical fields. Topics will include electro-mechanical devices, lean manufacturing, robotics, Ethernet networking, tolerance analysis, servo drives, hydraulic troubleshooting and pneumatic systems.
In support of the new program, the DENSO North America Foundation recently awarded KCC a grant of $149,346 to continue to acquire and upgrade equipment.
With this grant, KCC will purchase new PLC controllers, robots, networking devices, measurement tools, servo drives, hydraulic trainers and electro-fluid power trainers. Working with these types of sophisticated equipment is critical in maintenance occupations.
“DENSO is passionate about preparing students for careers in manufacturing and generating interest in these fields,” said Karen Cooper-Boyer, Director, DENSO North America Foundation. “As a local employer, we are fortunate to be able to support and partner with organizations like KCC and RMTC on programs that give students hands-on learning experiences and necessary skills to be successful in today’s advanced manufacturing environment.”
While the program is launching this academic year, it will continue to expand over a three-year period, during which grant money and KCC funds will pay for additional equipment and software. The three-year project is expected to cost $732,346.
“Kellogg Community College’s RMTC is one of the top manufacturing technology centers in the United States, and once again the college has demonstrated its commitment and ability to deliver relevant and effective training programs for employers and residents of our area,” said Karl Dehn, president and chief executive officer of Battle Creek Unlimited.
“Battle Creek employers are some of the most advanced manufacturers in the world with very high training standards,” Dehn said. “KCC has continually been proactive in creating and updating training programs to meet the current and anticipated technology training requirements of our companies, which is why KCC and its RMTC will remain one of greatest community assets we have to support the future growth of our existing companies and for attraction of new companies to the community.”
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