This week, I had the pleasure of meeting a new group of ‘instructors’ at our Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center (AMTC) in Oshkosh, where we prepare welders and metal fabricators. These new ‘instructors’ complement our already incredibly gifted faculty members at the AMTC, yet they’re a bit unusual. They’re robots!
That’s right, thanks to the ongoing support of our industry partners, we now have eight robotic welders in place to help our students build important skills in automation and programming. I was fascinated to watch these robots twist and turn in virtually every direction to make precision welds fast and efficiently. One student said it best, “I don’t want to ever lose my job to robots; I want to be the one to program and control them!”
Employers throughout the region continue to call for advanced manufacturing skills, and I’m delighted to see that our deans and instructors remain ahead of the curve in training the workforce for today and for the future. One of our instructors, Ben Cebery, took the lead this past summer to write curriculum for robotic welding applications. Thanks to his expertise and leadership, more welding and metal fabrication students can now enhance their marketability even further for industries that need them.
Speaking of employers and industries, a true appreciation behind this type of development comes from the relationship Fox Valley Technical College has with businesses. First, none of this technology upgrade would have ever happened without the outstanding partnership of Miller Electric Manufacturing Company and its parent organization, Illinois Tool Works and the Illinois Tool Works Foundation.
Under the leadership and vision of Miller Electric’s President, Mike Weller, our AMTC not only became a reality in early 2011 from both a structural and equipment standpoint, but today it’s even more of go-to place for training. Miller’s commitment to helping our region’s workforce receive talented welders and fabricators has caught the eye of other businesses in the form of support as well, including Muza Metal Products, Ariens Company, Walker Forge, Precision Thermal Processing, and others. Industry support at this facility in the form of equipment, material, advising and technical assistance has been second to none.
Oh, and by the way, our new robotic welding lab also caught the eye of Governor Walker this past week. The Governor visited the AMTC to highlight the facility’s commitment to high-tech training and advanced manufacturing. It was wonderful to see our faculty and students showcase their skills in front of the governor, business and community leaders—a very proud moment!