State's largest mechatronics program gets $500K upgrade

Article by: Scott Powell | Gaffney Ledger

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Spartanburg Community College recently installed $500,000 in automated robotics equipment to bring the latest in smart manufacturing into training programs offered on its SCC Cherokee County Campus.

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) made funds available for the college to provide mechatronics students with training in the latest technology used in an Industry 4.0 system. Mechatronics is a hybrid of mechanical, electrical and computer engineering.

Often called the Internet of Things or smart factories, Industry 4.0 allows students to use the latest computer applications in robotics and control systems in training for advanced manufacturing jobs at local industries. The state-of-the-art equipment was installed at the Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Industrial Technologies (CAMIT) facility on the local Spartanburg Community College campus.

Spartanburg Community College has the largest mechatronics program in the state. About 400 students are expected to enroll in the specialized program in August.

Major upgrades are being made statewide to train faculty at the 16 technical colleges in the Siemens Mechatronics System Certification Program. The year-long Level 1 certification and two-year Level 2 certification programs are designed to produce maintenance and engineering technicians.

It s not just a local or regional certification, said Jay Coffer, who chairs the advanced manufacturing department at Spartanburg Community College. This gives our program and our graduates a global certification that s recognized anywhere in the world.

The Heritage Classic Foundation, sponsor of the state s lone PGA Tour golf tournament, has committed $300,000 over the next three years towards faculty training in the South Carolina Technical College System.

What this funding from the Heritage Classic Foundation is going to allow us to do is really work to expand this program statewide, Coffer said. We re going to host the second round of training for instructors the last week of July and the first week of August.

A $2 million investment will be necessary in the South Carolina Technical College System to provide the necessary equipment needed for mechatronic programs. Although the equipment is expensive, Coffer noted program graduates with no experience can start out earning $40,000 to $50,000 annually at area manufacturing facilities.

This opens a lot of doors for students right here at SCC that they can use anywhere across the state, or anywhere else they want to go, Coffer said. Now we ve got an opportunity to spread that to other technical colleges across the state.

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