Jones College to offer state’s first Mechatronic/Robotics laboratory
The “demands” of area industry leaders are being met with the grand opening of Jones College’s new Mechatronics/ Robotics lab.
For the first time, the two-year institution is offering a Career Certificate, Technical Certificate and/or an Associate of Applied Science degree in Electro-Mechanical Technology. Upon completion of that program, students can also apply for an Advanced Certificate in mechatronics Technology as an option for a third year in the Mechatronics program. Currently, the college conducts non-credit mechatronics and robotics courses through its Workforce College at the Advanced Technology Center in Ellisville.
Adding academic courses are opening the doors to a prosperous future for graduates and industry in the region.
“It is incredible technology we’re teaching here at Jones College,” said Dr. Jesse Smith, Jones College president. “It is so innovative and cutting edge. This is what our business, industry and manufacturers need.”
With the state’s only Festo Mechatronics Training system and the Fanuc Robot Training Facility in the final stages of completion, graduates are getting hands-on training with state-of-the-art technology. Additionally, these students work with Allen Bradley CompactLogix PLC’s and AB Panelview Touchscreens as well as barcode and RFID technology. Jones also has four stand-alone Fanuc Material Handling Robot trainers and one Fanuc Welding Robot Trainer.
“Our advanced technology manufacturing sector has requested this, and we are trying to ensure our students are ‘work-ready’ when they leave. These training labs give them skills to be multi-faceted, leaving here with multiple certifications,” said Jennifer Griffith, dean of Workforce College at Jones College.
Jones College’s labs incorporate virtual reality training to prepare students for their jobs in a safe work environment. Additionally, electro-mechanical technology instructor Greg Griffith emphasized his graduates are fine-tuning their critical thinking and problem-solving skills while they are using all forms of technology.
“I tell my students they have to love thinking through things, troubleshooting. That’s the mindset we’re trying to create. We also teach them the old and new systems. We have computers that run systems and we teach them the programming for that. The virtual reality training we offer gives students experience on a simulated system, keeping them safe while also keeping the system from being damaged. Ultimately, the virtual reality simulator helps prevent a costly shut down of a system,” said Greg Griffith.
Successful students can work in the advanced manufacturing sector, offshore and anywhere there are systems using automation and robotics. Hattiesburg’s Travis Marshall already has a degree in drafting and design from Jones College but he said this additional training could really change his future, allowing him to go anywhere he wants with more options.
“I think the virtual reality system is an incredible training tool. This is my first semester and I’m already addicted to it. It’s a lot of fun and I can’t wait to get out of the labs and into the field,” said Marshall. “I want to work at Howard Industries or other companies around here or with oil companies in Texas or elsewhere.”