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Madison College students do the robot

An Industrial Robotics Competition win is latest notch in the belt for cutting-edge program.

Madison College Electro-Mechanical Technology students Kevin Morris and Kyle Ertmer talk with Peter Dettmer, Robotics and Automation instructor, about their capstone project for the Clack Corp. in Windsor.

Madison College Electro-Mechanical Technology students Kevin Morris and Kyle Ertmer talk with Peter Dettmer, Robotics and Automation instructor, about their capstone project for the Clack Corp. in Windsor.

Madison College

From the pages of In Business magazine.

Madison College is preparing students for next-generation careers and is doing so in award-winning fashion.

Recently, students Schuyler Bostedt, Garrett Butler, and Jonathan Stowell took first place in the Industrial Robotics Competition held during the Wisconsin Manufacturing and Technology Show Oct. 8–10 in Milwaukee. Bostedt, Butler, and Stowell are enrolled in the Electro-Mechanical Technology associate degree program at Madison College.

The contest tested robotic programming knowledge by challenging students to complete a set of tasks on a FANUC education robot in three hours. FANUC America Corp. is a leading supplier of robots, CNC systems, and factory automation. The students’ objective included program planning, end-of-arm tool selection, robot programming, and teamwork. A panel of experts judged the 23 teams on their ability to complete the assignment, efficiency, teamwork, and robotics knowledge.

“They had to show that they could apply learned concepts and skills to a new process they had not seen before,” says Peter Dettmer, robotics and automation instructor and Electro-Mechanical Technology program director. “There were several ways to accomplish the task and they had to decide on the best method and share the work to get it done.”

Garrett Butler, Schuyler Bostedt, and Jonathan Stowell earned the top prize in the college division of the Industrial Robotics Competition for Wisconsin students.

The Madison College team won the college division earning a FANUC M1iA 4-axis robot for their school. However, the team donated their prize to the winner of the high school division, Mayville High School. “High schools have more need to expose students to real-world industrial robots,” Dettmer says. “We hope that having different types of robots in their facility will get them interested in how they can program and use them.”

In addition, the team received an all-expenses-paid trip to the International Manufacturing and Technology Show 2020 in Chicago.

Madison College was the first authorized FANUC America Corp. training facility in the nation. Renee Kirchner, CEO of contest sponsor LabMidwest, calls Madison College’s robotics program “truly special.” She praises Dettmer and program co-director, Rick Jacobs, for leadership and teaching that “sets students up for success.”

Previously known as the Automated Manufacturing Systems Technology (AMST) program, Madison College has graduated 46 students since May 2015, including 13 in summer 2018. An additional 49 Industrial Maintenance (IM) students graduated in 2018. All of those students found jobs upon graduation, and Madison College’s AMST and IM programs boast 100-percent job placement.

Students in the new Electro-Mechanical Technology program can look forward to bright job prospects upon graduation, as well. Potential jobs include electro-mechanical technician, robotics technician, industrial maintenance mechanic, and manufacturing engineering technician, and local companies hiring for those positions include Stoughton Trailers, Madison-Kipp, Promega, Sub-Zero & Wolf, Clack Corp., and Placon. The median starting salary for manufacturing engineering technicians in the Madison College district area is $26.14 per hour, or $54,371.20 for a year of full-time employment.

“American manufacturers are competing on a global market,” notes Dettmer. “They need to find ways to increase their productivity. They can gain a competitive edge through automating currently manual processes.”

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