The Workforce Institute at St. Petersburg College has launched the first course of its new Mechatronics Program. The 30-hour Programmable Logic Controllers Certification Program is a hybrid program providing 12 hours of online courseware, 15 hours of intensive hands-on lab activities, and three hours of online preparation for the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies or PMMI exam.
What is mechatronics?
Mechatronics, also known as Advanced Manufacturing or Electromechanical Technology, is the synergistic application of mechanical, electrical, and controls. According to a 2015 report by the National Manufacturing Institute and Deloite, the skills gap is widening, and over the next decade, 3.4 million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed. The study estimates 60 percent of these positions are likely to be unfilled due to the talent shortage. As a result, only 1.4 million out of 3.4 million positions are expected to be filled, implying that the U.S. manufacturing sector is likely to suffer a shortfall of 2 million workers over the next decade. The good news is that all the factors seem to add up to new manufacturing opportunities for the next generation in several areas.
One opportunity worth exploring is the industrial application of Programmable Logic Controllers or PLCs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook in this field is expected to grow 16 percent by 2024.
SPC’s first course of its new Mechantronics Program was developed in response to this need.
What is a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC)?
A Programmable Logic Controller is used to control machines that are part of many devices in a wide variety of industries. The device is a miniature computer (having a microprocessor qualifies it as a computer) with a custom operating system built in.
PLC’s use a system of sensors that read input data to tell them when an event needs to occur, and then signals output to make the event happen. The entire sequence occurs in real time and repeats in a loop until the input changes. The PLC tells the machine what to do and when to do it. Think of a PLC performing the computer version of an orchestra conductor.
What jobs are related to PLCs?
PLC technicians install and repair industrial electronic equipment including I/O networks, data highways, and variable speed drives, process control equipment, and write PLC programs for a wide variety of automated control systems ranging from simple on-off controls to robotics.
A PLC technician’s duties would also include keeping the controllers operating to minimize interruptions, monitoring and reacting to issues when they arise, identifying and facilitating repairs as needed, and performing preventive maintenance at regular intervals.
Average salary for a PLC technician
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median pay of a programmable logic controller technician is just over $60,000 annually. The number will vary according to industry, geography, and education.
Landing a job like this requires a background in electronics or a related field and of course some teaching in either electronics or automation technology. Official certification or a degree is almost a must for many potential employers. Programs are available at community colleges and vocational schools that cover the basics. Companies are usually more comfortable with applicants who have some experience, so your best chance when lacking any is acquiring an education respected by hiring managers.
Upcoming PLC classes at SPC:
Upcoming Course Dates:
- Nov. 8 – Dec. 10, 2017
- Jan. 8 – Feb. 4, 2018
The five-day, hands-on lab classes are conducted at the BRAAS Company, 230 Douglas Road, Oldsmar, FL 34677
- 1-4 PM or 5-8 PM
- (Monday – Friday)
Register today by going to these links:
- 11/8/17-12/10/17, 1-4 p.m.
- 11/8/17-12/10/17, 5-8 p.m.
- 1/8/18-2/4/18, 1-4 p.m.
- 1/8/18-2/4/18, 5-8 p.m.
*PMMI Exam fee not included in course price
Three hours of course credit can be articulated to AS Engineering degree program.
For more information on PLC course offerings, please call Fred Tucker at 727-791-2409.