New training equipment adds value for Industrial Electricity/Electronics students at KCC

PLC trainers installed for student use at KCC's RMTC.

Among the more than $2 million Kellogg Community College received for updates to select occupational programs via the state’s Community College Skilled Trades Equipment Program (CCSTEP) last year was nearly $290,000 for new equipment for KCC’s Industrial Electricity/Electronics Program.

The new equipment, including an industrial Power and Control Electronics trainer and four Programmable Logic Control (PLC) trainers, was funded through nearly $287,908 in CCSTEP funds and a 25 percent funds match of $71,978 from KCC partners Battle Creek Unlimited and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

Tom Longman, director of KCC’s Regional Manufacturing Technology Center, where the trainers were installed last summer, said the new equipment is used mostly by automotive component, metal fabrication and plastics manufacturers. The training had only recently been added to the IBEW’s licensing program, Longman said, and in addition to being a benefit for students, the new equipment makes KCC a destination for licensed electricians returning to KCC for more training.

“The CCSTEP program is designed to assist community colleges like KCC with making student and worker training quicker and more comprehensive and efficient, and these trainers do that at KCC,” Longman said. “The new equipment makes learning faster and easier, both for students new to the program and for licensed technicians returning to the RMTC for more training.”

Kevin Barnes, an Industrial Electricity/Electronics professor at KCC, called the PLC trainers “industrially hardened computers designed to control industrial applications and machines.”

The new trainers are from a company called Amatrol are built around a newer, more robust controller platform called ControlLogix from Rockwell Automation, Barnes said. While KCC’s older trainers offered an older processing platform from Rockwell called RS500, the new trainers allow students to train not only on that platform but on the new ControlLogix and Siemens controllers platforms, as well.

“They also provide expanded content for more in-depth exploration of industrial control concepts,” Barnes said. “The new equipment allows students to better learn industrial automation principals by programming the PLCs and related equipment, such as human-machine interfaces, Ethernet communications protocols and related industrial components.”

In addition to the PLCs, KCC also received some additional equipment that updates the College’s industrial wiring curriculum and a second Power and Control Electronics trainer that covers electronics applications in manufacturing. Similar equipment is also available to KCC students in Coldwater, where KCC offers training at the Branch Area Career Center.

In addition to training opportunities for working electricians, KCC offers three Industrial Electricity/Electronics credential options for students, including an Associate in Applied Science degree in Industrial Electricity/Electronics; a Skilled Trades Associate in Applied Science for Journeyman or USDOL Apprenticeship card holders; and an Industrial Trades Certificate in Industrial Electricity/Electronics.

For more information about KCC’s Industrial Electricity/Electronics Program, visit

For more information about new equipment purchased through CCSTEP funds for KCC, click here.

Pictured in the photo above are PLC trainers installed for students at KCC’s RMTC in Battle Creek.