JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) --The manufacturing industry-- whether large or small-- requires skilled personnel to maintain or even operate the machines.
But how do you acquire those skills?
One Region 8 technical school has developed a new program for today's technology.
Looking at the training manufacturing line for the first time I was reminded of a real high end Erector set.
But as you watch it work you realize this tool is no toy.
"You will be at an entry level job where you understand mechatronics or the automated manufacturing process." Says Bobby Smith the Advanced Manufacturing Program instructor.
Those skills are upon completion of the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Program at ASU Newport Technical Center, Jonesboro. The program designed to meet today's requirements for modern integrated manufacturing.
"You have to be aware of the mechanical, electrical, the pneumatic, hydraulic. Everything impacts something else. "
In the old days most operators just worked a single machine, the product being passed on to the next machine on pallets or carts. Now a days it commonly runs along a long integrated line much like a car assembly line.
About half the students in the new program are displaced workers.
Larry Churchill worked for GE in Jonesboro for nearly 17 years until he was laid off.
He says this training will lead him back into industry. And hopefully a job with Nordex.
"To get a job at Nordex or any plant I can use my skills from here."
Before the students touch the mechanical trainer they learn the operating software and manufacturing language using a computer simulator to write operating programs.
Smith, "They simulate it here to see what happens but over here we actually crash the part."
The Mechatronics trainer builds Pneumatic Air Valves. The whole set up is about 12 by 8 and incorporates, electric, pneumatics, hydraulics, robotics . It's like a factory in miniature.
Although it looks kind of like a toy. Smith says everything you see here pretty much duplicates what you would see in any modern manufacturing plant.
But it can be "broke" for trouble shooting and repair purposes.
Smith, "Although our equipment is miniature in size it represents and depicts the true to life problems they would find in an industrial environment."
And that is why Larry Churchill is eager to take his skills back to work.
"I like the factories and how they work. Products they make and see how they are made. And the finished product."