Automation and Production Technology now offered at PTC

BY SKYLA LUCKEY, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — Automation Production and Technology is one of several new programs that are now being offered at the St. Petersburg campus of Pinellas Technical College (PTC). Lead instructor Shaun Gill moved from Maine to St. Petersburg in October to begin the preparation for the program that will begin Jan. 6.

Gone are the days when manufacturing and fabrication were all done by hand. Now that computers and technology have penetrated the industry, automation has become the competitive advantage in today’s manufacturing world.

Traditional trade skills such as mechanical and electrical engineering have been closely coupled with computing, which has resulted in high speed robotic systems that work more efficiently than humans. However, human input is still needed and that’s what the training at PTC will teach students.

Students learn the latest in advanced manufacturing equipment and technology through hands on practical experience.  The program offers a broad foundation of knowledge and skills focused on workplace safety, quality control, employability skills, team work and will stress the understanding and demonstration of tools, machines and instruments.

The St. Petersburg campus, located at 901 34th St. S, is the only campus to offer this training. This intense course is a total of 600 training hours, which takes approximately six months to complete.  Training is Monday through Friday from 7 -12:15 p.m. Because the program is brand new, it’s still in its building phase.

“I want to help students realize that they are capable of learning high-tech manufacturing trade skills if they put forth the work and dedication required out of this program,” said Gill.

Gill has more than 13 years of experience in marine science, and helped direct a marine science research facility in Maine for eight years prior to joining the team at PTC. He has experience building and creating custom technology and tool prototypes for marine science research and educational initiatives.

“We are still building our advisory committee—we’ve got members from Valpak, our first official advisory members, and I’m looking for more folks in the local manufacturing, automation and production industries that would like to sit on that advisory board and help shape the program and align it with the needs of our community, industry and business,” Gill said.

The curriculum is broken up into four occupational completion points, which are standards in career technical education. Students moving through this process will be classified as production workers at the base level and will work their way up into assemblers, process assistants and then to automation production technicians.

The first week of the program teaches students about the business, incorporating safety, concepts of technology, engineering process, the impacts of technology and influence on history.

The classroom is roughly 5,000 square feet. Along with 15 desks and computers, there will be a manufacturing cell equipped with a robotic arm, stations for hydraulics, motors, industrial wiring and more. Gill looks forward to teaching students not only how to operate the equipment, but also to troubleshoot and maintain it.

“Students are going to be able to learn how to use industrial grade machinery like a mill, a drill press, and we’re also exploring ways to incorporate computer numeric controls,” he explained. “It’s really a special intersection of high-tech computing meeting very fundamental trades. There’s going to be clean work and you’ll be able to get your hands dirty a little bit too.”

Job placement is high for this trade skill. Classes begin next month, so hurry and reserve your spot by visiting pcsb.org/myptc or calling (727) 893-2500.

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