Community college courses meet manufacturers’ needs
Oakland, Mich. school develops mechatronics courses for area plants
A new Oakland Community College credit technical program designed to train technicians in the multiple skills required in advanced manufacturing will begin in September (2012). The courses are in response to the needs of area manufacturers.
“We have close to 200 German-owned firms in Oakland County, Michigan,” says Irene Spanos, the county’s director of economic development and community affairs. “In Germany this cross-training has been taking place for some time now. Of the 800 foreign-owned firms already located here, the next wave in technical training here in the U.S. is this cross-training of mechanical engineering with electrical engineering.
“The Automotive Industry is driving this new trend with the IT boom in the automobile but we are seeing this ‘technical merging’ in other manufacturing industries as well.” Spanos added. “We are working with the employers in our region – some of the largest technology companies in the world – to ensure the workforce they need globally is qualified and trained here in Southeast Michigan.”
OCC’s Economic and Workforce Development and Engineering, Manufacturing and Technological Sciences departments will offer “Mechatronics – Integrated Skills for Advanced Manufacturing” beginning with a series of core courses equaling 35 credits, or 570 classroom hours. Topics such as geo-algebra, industrial safety, mechanical gears and linkages, computer assisted design, applied electricity, problem solving, robotics and fluid power are covered in the core sessions. Classes are completed in five two-month components each including two to three classes, and finishing in June 2013.
Students will then be able to specialize in one of three tracks – Mechatronics and Controls (five classes – 16 credits), Fabrication and Welding (four classes – 12 credits), or Robotics and Automation (three classes – 12 credits). Opportunities to gain supervised work experiences are part of the program. Students may choose a customized internship, or employers may choose to develop an apprenticeship program.
Annual Salary Survey
After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.