TSTC obtains new robotics equipment to meet industry demands | Fort Bend Economic Development Council

ROSENBERG —Texas State Technical College prides itself on working with the industries it serves to provide the best, most up-to-date training.

A recent example of this occurred at TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus, where the Robotics and Industrial Controls Technology program purchased new training equipment so graduates can meet the needs of the local job market.

The equipment includes human-machine interfaces, which are commonly known as HMIs. They are designed, as the name suggests, to make working with computers and robots easier.

“They (HMIs) are everywhere in the industry,” said Charles Sparks, lead instructor for the Robotics and Industrial Controls Technology program at the Fort Bend County campus. “We can set up interfacing and communications, as well as create and install flags that communicate with the programmable logic controllers, all right here.”

While the machines are still being set up, the goal is for them to connect with another modern industry technology, variable frequency drives. These drives allow for variation in revolutions per minute for AC motors, the most common type of motor, down to .001 rpm. Without them, AC motors can only run at zero or 100% power, off or on. Industries that use them prefer them to DC motors as they are lower in cost and maintenance.

The decision to buy the machines came from discussions with industry leaders looking to hire TSTC graduates.

“It was the one thing we weren’t teaching in our program,” Sparks said. “The industry leaders would say, ‘Your kids are great at PLCs, they are great at this and great at that, but they are lacking variable frequency drive knowledge.’ So we added in the equipment and knowledge and made a semester out of it.”

Program curriculum is determined by several factors, including industry needs and profitability for the students upon graduation. If it does not ultimately benefit the students and their future careers, it will not be considered.

“Our students always had a good chance for employment, but now it is even better,” Sparks said. “Between this and everything else we teach, our students are the complete package.”

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree and a certificate of completion in Robotics and Industrial Controls Technology at its Fort Bend County and Waco campuses.

For more information about TSTC, go to tstc.edu.

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