MCCCD facilitating growth of collaborative robots in workforce
The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) is helping advance robotics to have a common place in the workforce with Cobots, or collaborative robots designed to work alongside humans as mobile machines.
“Robots have been around for years, but cobots in maybe the last five years or so have really started taking off,” said Ken Hackler, program director of Automated Industrial Technology at Mesa Community College. “The cobot is meant to work in conjunction with people, so they’re very safe and have a lot of safety parameters.”
Students in the Automated Industrial Technology (Robotics) program are trained to operate, monitor, and maintain a variety of automated electro-mechanical, product assembly, process control, and product distribution systems that use programmable controls and other equipment to manage systems, in addition to learning other techniques while adhering to safety, health, and environmental rules and regulations.
“The technology has changed over the years, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the need for people to be in the industry,” said Sebastian Yazzie, an Automated Industrial Technology student at Mesa Community College. “My employer is actually supporting me to go to school because demand for jobs is so high. At my job we use robots mainly to pick and place; grabbing a product, scanning the barcode, labeling that product, and shipping it out to the patient in a timely manner. These robots are the ground foundation for us to be more automated and ensure that our patients receive their prescriptions.”
Earlier this month, Governor Doug Ducey gave his 2022 State of the State address where he recognized community colleges as the workforce solution for the state, including a plan that will provide targeted investments to establish six advanced manufacturing training centers facilitated by community colleges across the state. MCCCD’s Automated Industrial Technology programs are some of many advanced manufacturing career paths that are seeing increased demand for experts in the industry.
According to Hackler, it’s also just an exciting industry: “If you love technology, hands-on work, and want to see a product made, this program is for you. You’re also going to benefit the world and help people like some of the pharmaceutical companies that utilize this type of robotics.”