Oakton faculty build automation trainers for new manufacturing course


Last updated 1/16/2020 at 2:46pm

A group of dedicated Oakton Community College faculty "techies" recently built 10 new programmable automation controllers (PAC) trainers that will be used in a new manufacturing course available this spring. The devices will give students hands-on experience with the latest technology in analyzing complex industrial automated systems.

Students enrolled in the Programmable Automation Controllers (MFG 245) course will learn new styles of programming and use these skills to control a variety of automated systems.

The new course will be part of Oakton's Manufacturing Technology, Mechatronics Technology and Supply Chain Automation programs. It prepares students to earn an associate degree in applied science for careers in the growing field of industrial engineering. According to the most recent information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment outlook in this area is expected to grow 8% through 2028, faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual wage for industrial engineers is more than $87,000.

Building the PAC trainers saved the college an estimated $70,000, compared to if they had been purchased at retail.

Faculty Coordinator of Manufacturing, Mechanical Design/CAD Boguslaw Zapal led the project, along with fellow faculty members Francis Barar, Pawel Baran, Angelo Gero and Yong Yoo. Student employee Alan Dratewski also assisted on the endeavor by providing 3D printing components.

"It was a collaborative effort that culminated as a result of two years of work," Zapal says. "Those involved each had their own area of expertise and mostly participated during their free time. Completing the project wouldn't have been possible without their help and commitment."

Spring classes start Jan. 21. For more information about opportunities in Manufacturing Technology at Oakton, contact Joseph Cirone, department chair, at 847-376-7612 or [email protected], or Zapal at 847-376-7707 or [email protected].


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