Autry Tech Open House Promotes Mechatronics Program

Webster's Dictionary doesn't list a definition for mechatronics, but area business owners and instructors at Autry Technology Center are excited about what the word will mean to their students and future workers.

Autry's mechatronics program soon will provide training with state-of-the-art simulators so students gain hands-on experience in automated machining, electronics, hydraulics and other areas.

"It's automation at its finest", said Marcie Mack, assistant superintendent at Autry.

Mechatronics is the combination of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, electronics, information technology and systems thinking, utilized in the design of products and automation process, according to information compiled by Autry officials.

Autry's mechatronics program will provide students with customized training with a wide variety of simulators.  Mack said the program provides a foundation for anyone planning a college degree in engineering.

"It's a great stepping-stone process," Mack said.

Mack said Autry is the official Oklahoma FESTO training facility.  FESTO is the brand of industrial and process automation set up recently at Autry to provide the training.

The equipment cost Autry about $150,000.00, Mack said, and can be used to train employees for work in aerospace, automotive, chemical processing, computers, communications, electronics, health care, machine tools and any other type of work that involves mechanical, electronics systems and engineering with computer interface.

The equipment can be used to train current employees, and Autry instructors have the ability to tailor training for specific industries.  The simulators also are set up on wheels for easy movement.

"We can customize to meet training needs," Mack said.

Monte Roggow, electronic technical instructor, said the equipment provides a lot of hands-on opportunities.

"That's a big plus for us," Roggow said.

Roggow said he was in awe when he first saw the system.

"The first thing that flashed through my brian was, 'Cool'," Roggow said.

The simulators include an industrial programmable logic controller, computerized numerical control machining, automated material handling, computer-aided drafting, industrial electricity and electronics, industrial hydraulics, industrial pneumatics, industrial sensors and tolerance and quality control.

An extra aspect is a residential wiring simulator.

Roggow said the equipment can handle up to 30 full-time morning students and 30 full-time afternoon students.  Training also is available on an as-needed basis.  Roggow said he plans to rotate students through the mechatronics stations.

Roy Carter, reliability engineer with Bama Foods in Tulsa, was on hand at Autry's mechatronics open house Monday to check out the new system.

He said he wants to work with a Career Tech Center in his area with the hope of getting similar mechatronics equipment.

Carter said while baby boomers are reaching retirement age, more and more mechanical engineers are needed to fill those spots in the work force.

He said workers trained in mechatronics can earn up to $28.00 an hour.

"It would be easy for some to make in excess of $70,000.00 a year," Carter said.

Article from EnidNews newspaper, by Tippi Rasp, Staff Writer