Waco Robotics and Industrial Controls Technology

(WACO, Texas) – Students in two Robotics and Industrial Controls Technology program classes at Texas State Technical College spent a recent morning building portable integration training units.

The two student-built trainers were designed to complete a new lab that opened last fall. The lab is used for four of the program’s classes.

“We are answering the call from industry to educate tomorrow’s technician today,” said Corey Mayo, lead instructor in TSTC’s Robotics and Industrial Controls Technology program. “All of our lab trainers mirror an industrial automated environment, with the ability to grow as needed.”

Students are not only programming and integrating robot assembly cells, but also incorporating human-machine interface (HMI), Allen-Bradley programmable logic controller equipment, and Allen-Bradley Powerflex 525 AC drives.

“We are a hands-on program developed for individuals with a desire to understand how and why things work,” Mayo said. “Every smartphone is an HMI.  This generation grew up with touch screens, allowing Robotics students to go further in the new lab than previous graduates.”

Students began working on the new lab last summer, assembling the new trainers from the frame up. The program’s instructors pre-drilled holes in power enclosures and guided students during the final assembly. The trainers house AC drives, transformers, permissive devices, safety relays, and other equipment.

Two of the students who worked on the project were Austin McCain, of Sulphur Springs, and Lucas McIver, of Corsicana. Both said it was interesting to assemble and integrate the equipment even though they did not know what their functions were at the time.

McCain is scheduled to graduate this semester with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Robotics and Industrial Controls Technology. He learned about TSTC through his participation in SkillsUSA, a partnership of students, teachers and industry leaders who work together to ensure that America has a skilled workforce.

McCain said he has enjoyed connecting programmable logic controllers and human-machine interfaces to drives.

“I’m much more of a visual learner,” he said. “If I can see it and do it, I am better off.”

McIver, a fifth-semester Robotics and Industrial Controls Technology student, is scheduled to graduate next summer. He said he likes for the instructors to assign new projects that he and his classmates have to learn and figure out answers to. His favorite part of the program has been using the programmable logic controllers.

“It clicks in my brain so easily,” he said.

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree and a certificate of completion in Robotics and Industrial Controls Technology at the Fort Bend County and Waco campuses.

For more information on TSTC, go to tstc.edu

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