The school purchased preconfigured panels full of Rockwell Automation products, such as drives, processors, HMI monitors, and industrial controls. Training workbooks from Rockwell Automation provide
simulations of real-world scenarios and applications, such as how to set up a conveyor.
“Rockwell Automation has long working relationships with four-year colleges, but this is the first time we’ve partnered this closely with a two-year technical college,” said Scott Feldmann, account manager at Rockwell Automation in the Madison area.
“We recognized that by working with Madison College, we had an ideal opportunity to help train the workforce that’s needed in this area. Education is part of our commitment to the community and our
commitment to our customers.” In fulfilling this commitment, Rockwell Automation and Madison College decided to take their partnership one step further.
“We wanted to make the program more impactful for everybody and attract more students,” Feldmann explained. The result was the Allen-Bradley® ControlLogix® certificate program
. Students at Madison College – including both high school graduates and already employed workers who want to advance their careers – can earn “maintainer certificate” recognition from Rockwell Automation.
After successfully completing the automated manufacturing program at Madison College, students who want to acquire their maintainer certificate must take an additional class taught by Rockwell Automation instructors on-site and pass a test to demonstrate their mastery of the material.
“Having a certificate from a world-leading manufacturer really makes a difference for people who are searching for a job or advancement in their careers,” Dettmer said.
The partnership between Rockwell Automation and Madison College was formalized in August 2013, which means the first students who qualified for the recognition graduated in 2015. Meanwhile, local manufacturers are eagerly interested in the program because they want students well-trained to operate and maintain Rockwell Automation equipment.
“Many of our students are already interning with local companies. And every single one of those interns has been told, ‘When you graduate, we want to hire you on full time’,” Dettmer said. “We also get inquiries from our local and regional employers on a weekly, if not daily basis. They’re desperately seeking graduates with the skills our students are learning.
“There are close to 1,000 job openings in our region relating to our career offerings,” Dettmer continued. “So we expect that most of our students will have their pick of places to work upon graduation.”
Today, Madison College and Rockwell Automation are collaborating to expand students’ automation skills even further. “We want to get more into the software side, to serve manufacturers’ needs for employees who are versed in data collection, HMI development and networked factories,” Dettmer said.
There’s plenty of room for the automation program to grow. In April 2014, Madison College opened a new wing on campus called the Ingenuity Center. The nearly $40 million center was built using funding approved by voters in the Madison College district.
“The Ingenuity Center is exclusively focused on advanced manufacturing,” Dettmer explained. “We have more classroom space and labs dedicated to our program so we can focus more on PLCs, robotics and the integration of those systems into manufacturing work cells.”
Dettmer and his colleagues also are focused on attracting more students to their program. They visit local high schools, carrying along some of their advanced manufacturing equipment. They demonstrate how it’s used on plant floors and discuss career options in manufacturing.
Program instructors also host student groups at the Ingenuity Center.
“We want to make potential students realize that manufacturing is growing and alive in Wisconsin,” Dettmer said. “And that great career opportunities are out there waiting for them.”
The results mentioned above are specific to Madison Area Technical College’s use of Rockwell Automation products and services in conjunction with other products. Specific results may vary for other customers.