The new Advanced Manufacturing Lab at St. Petersburg College Clearwater Campus was unveiled on Wednesday, January 16, thanks to the State of Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Florida Job Growth Workforce Training Grant.
Training for Advanced Manufacturing Jobs
St. Petersburg College President Dr. Tonjua Williams, Clearwater Campus Provost Stan Vittetoe, and Program Director Lara Sharp presided over the opening of the new Advanced Manufacturing Lab. The ceremony was attended by representatives from local industry, including Lockheed Martin, Jabil, and more. Sharp spoke about the difference that the Engineering, Manufacturing, and Building Arts program made in the community, noting one entrepreneur who 3D prints customized hearing aids.
She also recognized Monin, who has provided materials for student projects, and the many area businesses that have opened their doors for tours, allowing students to see an advanced manufacturing facility in action. The new lab will provide the training to prepare students for a career in today’s fast paced advanced manufacturing jobs. The new lab features mechatronics simulators, 3D printers, a Computer Numerical Control mill, and more.
The lab makes use of the latest equipment, including mechatronics simulators that prepare students for the real world. The Advanced Manufacturing Lab’s simulators allow students to practice and test their skills on the same kinds of programmable logic controllers that they would use on the job.
PLCs are used to control and monitor industrial equipment. A PLC receives instructions from a computer, monitors the industrial equipment, such as industrial robots connected to the PLC, and reports the status of production to output devices like a computer monitor or a printer. A mechatronics technician programs and monitors the PLC and makes repairs as needed. Berry Anderson, a student just starting the Mechatronics program, is eager to get started with the new PLCs.
“After researching mechatronics programs, I decided that St. Petersburg College’s program was a great fit for me,” Anderson said. I’m looking forward to using the new Advanced Manufacturing Lab. Automation is the future of manufacturing.”
St. Petersburg College graduate and lab assistant Ryder Fitzpatrick demonstrated the Haas Computer Numerical Control Minimill with a prototype of a t-shirt stencil for local nonprofit Oldsmar Cares, a food pantry and clothing closet. A CNC minimill is programmed via a computer and can quickly create parts from a pattern by removing material from a block. The minimill can work quickly, exactly, and repeat its work over and over again based on a program.
“They wanted something to do at events to get kids excited, and they wanted this stencil as a test part,” Fitzpatrick said.
High tech manufacturing is on the rise in the state of Florida. Industrial Machinery Mechanic positions are projected to see 15 percent growth in the next seven years. Learn more about the Engineering, Manufacturing, and Building Arts academic community at St. Petersburg College, and the Advanced Manufacturing Program.