October 20, 2006
Equipment manufacturers discuss mechatronics at Cowley open house
Along with Cowley College career and technical education and engineering students, students and business and industry people from around the area came to hear about a proposed new technical program at Cowley College called Mechatronics, Tuesday and Wednesday in the Walker Technology Building on the Arkansas City campus.
Mechatronics is the synergistic combination of mechanical, electrical, electronics, information technology and systems thinking, utilized in the design of products and automation processes.
The mechatronics program would provide additional emphasis areas in maintenance and plastics technology. The mechatronics program may be offered at both the Arkansas City campus, Mulvane Industrial Technology Center and other locations within Cowley County.
“The open house was extremely successful because it was attended by a broad number of people,” Cowley College Department Chair of Career and Technical Education Bruce Crouse said. “The response we got from the business and industry people indicates the program is needed and will be a valuable asset in the community.”
The program would be the only one of its kind in the State of Kansas.
Rod Murphy from DEPCO, LLC in Pittsburg, and Tony Oran, the Southeast Regional Manager for FESTO Learning Systems based out of Knoxville, Tenn., were on hand to discuss the proposed curriculum for the two-year program as well as demonstrate the equipment and computer simulation programs the students would be working on in the mechatronics program.
Technical training objectives include the ability to analyze functional relationships in mechatronic systems; manufacture mechanical components; follow information and energy flow in electrical, pneumatic and hydraulic sub-systems; plan and organize work flow; commission, troubleshoot and repair mechatronic systems; and communicate using industrial network protocols, including DeviceNet and ProfiBus.
The students would start with the instructional materials and then move on to the simulation software applications. After simulating the system building and trouble shooting the system, the students would go on to build the automated system.
“The software is nice because they can do everything they would do on the equipment and verify it just like on a mill or lathe program and then come over and build it,” said Murphy.
There would be three emphasis areas along with mechatronics. The areas would be plastics, industrial maintenance and the food industry.
“We intend to offer classes on demand for business and industry training,” Crouse said.
Mechatronics is one of the fastest growing career fields in the United States and also the fastest growing event at the Skills USA competition.
“High School and college students touring the presentation had a number of questions and became involved with the equipment quickly. This gives me an indication we will see a good response to the program.” Crouse said.