Hundreds of High School Students Get Up-Close Look at Advanced Manufacturing
Manufacturers are desperate to change their image. Despite years of community outreach, there are still many people who view manufacturing jobs as dirty and repetitive. What’s more, they are unaware that the number of unfilled jobs is growing at a staggering pace.
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That’s why Festo, a worldwide leader in advanced automation and robotic solutions, created a Mobile Manufacturing Lab (MML) that tours the country, and it recently made a stop at ECPI University’s Virginia Beach campus. Hundreds of local high school students were treated to a highly-engaging experience, interacting with technology used in today’s advanced manufacturing environment, including:
- Electromechanical actuators
- Servo motors and controls with multi-axis controllers
- Medical and lab automation applications
- Tripod robot sorting with high- speed vision system
- Festo Didactic training work stations
- Diagnostic measurement
- Category IV safety valves
- Flow sensing valves
- Process valves and actuators
“We have a compelling story to tell,” says ECPI University Virginia Beach Campus President Kevin Paveglio. “Festo’s mobile lab is an excellent way for people to experience today’s highly-technical advanced manufacturing environment. They discover that today’s advanced manufacturing facilities are modern marvels, clean environments filled with skilled professionals operating all kinds of mechanical, electronic, and computer-based systems.”
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While fewer humans are needed in these automated environments, the people who do work there must possess high-level skill sets to program, maintain, troubleshoot, and repair all of the advanced systems. To help fulfill the need for skilled professionals, ECPI University was among the first schools in the nation to offer a Mechatronics program which blends the three primary disciplines aligned with advanced manufacturing – electronics, mechanical engineering technology, and computer information systems. People who possess those skills rarely have trouble finding a job.
According to a report published by Deloitte, it’s projected that nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs in the United States must be filled over the next decade, but only about 1.5 million people will possess the necessary skills to do the work. This may be a problem for employers, but it could be an opportunity for anyone looking for a career. Moreover, the average manufacturing worker in the U.S. earns $77,506, which is 20 percent higher than what an average worker earns in other industries.
ECPI University offers the Mechatronics program at most of its campuses in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and online. “We have been quite successful helping students acquire the skills they need to succeed in advanced manufacturing,” says Kevin Paveglio. “Through our accelerated, year-round program, they can earn their bachelor’s degree in as little as 2.5 years and begin working in this very interesting career field.”