Retraining Our Local Workforce

Posted on Nov 3, 2016

Many of us are aware of the ways in which technology has become a big part of enhancing our car driving experience. We can talk to our car- call so and so, play some Taylor Swift, give me directions to 129 West 81st Street. But have you ever thought about the role technology played in building your car?

Robots are an integral part of the automobile manufacturing process, but behind every good robot, there is a well-trained engineer programming it.

Training those engineers is where Rock Valley College comes in.

Six years ago, RVC became the first community college in Illinois approved for FANUC  Robot Certification. Since that time, over 250 students have become FANUC certified and many have found employment locally at companies such as Gunite Corporation, UTC Aerospace Systems, Woodward, and Chrysler.

The recent acquisition of a KUKA robot will make RVC’s graduates even more employable as they will now receive FANUC and KUKA certifications. But it’s not just traditional RVC students who can benefit. Over 60% of the robots used in heavy industry are FANUC or KUKA and KUKA robots are in use at local companies such as Woodward, Ingersoll, and Chrysler.

Chrysler is one company that has taken notice of the training opportunities RVC can provide and recently sent 24 of its robot programmers to the college to train and get certified on the FANUC and KUKA machines under the instruction of RVC Professor of Engineering & Technology Joe Etminan.

“Chrysler is retooling their floor for production of the new Jeep Cherokee so they want all of their robot programmers to get trained and certified,” said Etminan.

The Chrysler “students” range in experience from those who have had no training on these robots to those who have a lot of experience but need to refresh their skills.

Mark Schubert, an electrical technician at Chrysler, is fairly new to the world of robotics and is excited about the opportunity to train at RVC.

“I think it’s great,” said Schubert. “It’s almost a ‘have to.’ You can’t just walk in to what I do at Chrysler and pick up a teach pendant and just do the job. You have to have some type of idea or [the robot] is either not going to move or if it does move you’re going to more than likely crash it.”

On the opposite end from Schubert in this Chrysler training class, is Darius Cavey, also an electrical technician, but one with many years of experience on the KUKA robot. Despite his experience, he finds RVC’s training to be just as valuable and important as anyone else in the class.

“At Chrysler we have three different robots that we use and we’re not always working in the same area every day,” said Cavey. “So in order to be diverse in all three robots that we have, this type of training is a good way to keep us fresh when we don’t see the robot very often.”

Besides this Chrysler class, Etminan says the college has trained employees from Gunite Corporation, locally, and even those from companies as far away as Chicago and Galena. He hopes the college can continue to find companies interested in this unique training opportunity.

To learn more or to schedule a training program, please contact Joe Etminan at (815) 921-3174.

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