Mechatronics program at Festo Didactic exposes students to advanced technologies

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The program trains both Festo employees and those from other companies in the region, including Art Metal Group, Clippard Instruments, E-Beam, MQ Automation, Nestlé and others.

In November, Festo announced new plans for MAP, designed to make the apprenticeship program even more useful for manufacturers and new technicians.

“Employers said ‘faster’ — train faster, build skills faster, and make employees knowledgeable faster,” said Festo Didactic’s Head of Industrial Workforce Development Karolyn Ellingson.

She and others went on fact-finding missions for other similar programs to learn more about how they work. The result is a 57-week program that allows apprentices to spend four days a week on the job and one day a week in MAP, where they spend about 30% of their time in the classroom and 70% doing hands-on work in the lab. Participants will be accepted on a rolling basis, which allows them to start anytime. Those who successfully complete the program can receive a Department of Labor certificate, which is recognized throughout the industry and across the country.

“Manufacturing workers must be tech savvy with well-rounded skills in today’s industrial job market,” said Tony Oran, Vice President of Festo Didactic North America. “It used to be that coding and software design knowledge were skill sets mainly associated with office jobs, but now they’re an integral part of modern factory life.”

Oran said that such programs as MAP are essential. “By 2030, there will be about 2.1 million unfilled manufacturing positions in the United States. The existing 2-year colleges and career-technical programs won’t be able to meet that need. We need different models.”

The cost of the program can be offset or reduced. Through Ohio’s TechCred program, the state will reimburse up to $2,000 per employee and up to $30,000 per employer when a company pays for a current or prospective employee to earn an industry-recognized credential in technology-focused programs like MAP.

Apprenticeship classes are conducted at Festo’s Regional Service Center, a 47-acre state-of-the-art logistics and manufacturing plant that provides automation technology serving all of North America. The plant opened in 2015 and is among the 15 largest employers in Mason.

MAP launched in 2016 and four years later earned the Best in Ohio Business Award in the Workforce Development Program category.

At Festo in Mason, a full-scale Industry 4.0 Experience Center is also in the works. The new center and showroom is aimed at closing the STEM skills gap by bringing technical education, industrial applications and actual manufacturing all under one roof.

The Experience Center will house the latest in Festo technology from networked cyber-physical stations to factory robots, assembly components, supply chain innovation and more. Educators, students and workers at all levels will be able to visit and speak with Festo experts about career programs, learning solutions and workforce development for industrial companies and the classroom alike.

For Kenneth Bibb, the program worked.

“I tell my friends about MAP. I tell them, ‘You need to do this,’” he said.


MORE DETAILS

Interested businesses, students and parents should contact Karen Oberer at karen.oberer@festo.com or visit festo-didactic.com/us-en to learn more.

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