Member Spotlight: Iowa Western Community College
Iowa Western Partners With Leading Robotics Integrator
Iowa Western Community College announced an exciting partnership in spring 2012 that is expected to bring immediate benefits to students seeking careers in the high-tech field of robotics. Officials with Ellison Technologies Automation signed on with the college to help train the next generation of robotics technicians at its sprawling facility in Council Bluffs.
“We have 64,000-square feet of lab space right here for Iowa Western students to utilize,” said Greg Olenick, vice president and general manager of Ellison Technologies. Ellison Technologies offers quality CNC machine tools and robotic automation solutions to North American manufacturers. “We will be using the newest technology available, including advanced robotics and other equipment which will be a key benefit to Iowa Western and its students.”
Ellison Technologies Automation is a recognized leader in industrial robotic system integration. For more than 29 years, Ellison Technologies Automation has been meeting unique challenges by designing, manufacturing, and programming turnkey robotic automation systems for a myriad of manufacturing applications. The company designs and builds factory automation systems for large component robotic welding, palletizing (boxes and bags), assembly of larger mechanical devices, material handling, material removal (thermal and rotating media), machine loading /unloading (general machining, large casting, multi-machine, diecast, press tending including press brakes), and large integrated systems with multiple part processes.
Iowa Western began accepting applications in fall 2012, and interest has been high for the associate’s degree program. Robotics and automated systems technologies are producing one of the world’s fastest growing career opportunities for highly trained, skilled technicians. Students spend about half of their time in the classroom learning applied robotics, robot controller maintenance, electronics, circuits, and programming. The other half of their time is spent applying their laboratory projects in the lab at Ellison Technologies, working with the same high-tech robots and controllers used by today’s leading manufacturing firms.
Graduates of this program will be qualified to assemble, install, program, troubleshoot, and maintain robotics and automated systems equipment as technicians in many industries, including manufacturing, biomedical, government, and food processing. In addition, students can apply the skills they learn to other career fields, including electronic systems and equipment, telecommunications, and power distribution.
“We would not have been able to offer this exciting career field without the important partnership with Ellison Technologies,” said Iowa Western president, Dr. Dan Kinney. “This is a great example of how the college can work with area business leaders to provide excellent career opportunities for students.”
Olenick said the timing for this program is good because of the aging workforce in America. “There is definitely a demand and need for employees in this field,” he said. “The workforce is shrinking because the Baby Boomers are retiring. It is estimated that by 2018 there will be 70 million leaving the workforce, and only 40 million workers coming in. There is a gap that we need to fill.”
According to Olenick, students entering the Robotics Program will be energized by the state-of-the-art technology used in industry today. “The jobs that robots are replacing are non-desirable, heavy lifting/unsafe in the industry and ones that young people are not interested in filling,” he said. “Robots are helping businesses to fill these jobs and to become more efficient. Helping our customers compete locally and globally is our mission, and this new training program will not only be good for Iowa Western but for our customers who will benefit from hiring skilled robotics technicians.”
Iowa Western has gone another step further in ensuring the viability of this growing program by announcing a large construction project that will begin in spring 2013. Following the successful passage of a $22.5 million bond referendum, college officials are presently drawing up plans for a new 80,000 square foot engineering building on campus that will house Robotics in the future.
Click here to learn more about the Iowa Western Community College Robotics Program.