Advanced Manufacturing Technology (AMT) is a recently added program that has been a part of Crowder for only the past three years. Located in the Crowder College Technical Education Center (CCTEC) students are trained in a variety of areas, such as in mechanics, robotics and electrics. But what exactly is the AMT program?
“[AMT] is hands on,” said Andy Wilson, AMT Instructor. “They [students] don’t just talk about wiring an engine—they wire an engine. We learn from the book and hands on.”
The AMT program has a variety of opportunities that can teach students to design, build or repair. Such as in AMT 102: Introduction to Industrial Electricity, the program trains students to be maintenance technicians who can fix machines and keep plants running. Wilson said that they give students the tools to accomplish this task.
“We take a person who does not know anything at all about electricity,” said Wilson, “and teach them how to work on large industrial systems.” One way they help teach students to do this, is by having them physically wire motor control circuits, and not just wire them, but help students to understand what exactly it is that they are doing.
Another skill that students can learn from the AMT is working knowledge of programmable logic controllers (PLCs)—which are computers that virtually control all machines in a workplace—such as an assembly line. Students learn how to program Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs), Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) and Motion Servos, as well as become “proficient” in RS 500 and RS 5000—which are PLC programming software packages that control machines, said Wilson.
Other fields that are studied in AMT are hydraulics, wielding and process control.
A student can acquire an Associates of Applied Science in Manufacturing Maintenance or Automation/Robotics through the AMT, or: an Industrial Maintenance Certificate, an Automation/Robotics Technician Certificate or an Industrial Electrical Technician Certificate.
“You really learn at this school,” said Richard Martinous, robotics and automation major, who at 50 hadn’t had a math class in 30 yrs., and yet he is currently in his second year of the AMT program, working to acquire his associates. “I found people who could help me,” said Martinous.
According to the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, there are currently 3 million unfilled-skilled AMT positions in the United States, because companies just don’t have the trained personal for the jobs. They are looking for skilled workers, “And we are doing our best to close that gap,” said Wilson.
“These jobs are the future,” said Martinous. He also added, that mostly everything is going automated because it saves expenses; however, they’re going to need people to work on these robots and to fix them if there’s a problem.
Also, AMT related jobs are not risky financial wise. Martinous said that on Feb. 18, he interviewed for a company in Joplin to work on PLCs. The starting pay was $50,000 a year—$28 an hour, which is without overtime. Martinous believes that with extra hours, the pay could easily be a six figure number.
“You just have to apply yourself and work the hours,” said Martinous, who is amazed, and doesn’t understand why few of the younger generation are not taking advantage of this opportunity. Especially since these are “Jobs that are never going to go,” said Martinous.
In addition to this, since these jobs are in high demand, most students in Crowder’s AMT program get employment prior to their graduation. Wilson can recall one of his students being hired for a PLC position before he was even done with the program.
The AMT has an advisory panel of over 50 local companies, who provide feedback that the AMT uses to tailor their training to meet specific needs for the types of technicians that these companies are looking for.
There are also internships available for students, so that they can get even more hands on experience, establish connections with future careers and to see if this is truly the career that they wish to explore.
Also, on March 5, the AMT had a dinner with several representatives from local industries: Adecco, Ceradyne, MARS Petcare, Modine Manufacturing, RockTenn and TAMKO Building Products, who shared their hiring processes, interview expectations and tips on how to become their employees. Wilson hopes that this will become an annual event.
Wilson “daydreams” that the program will evolve from just training students in the core areas of AMT, to developing specialized emphasis on a specific area, such as a student being able to take four classes of electric instead of just two, which would, “Give a student not just a well-rounded foundation but expertise,” said Wilson. Other than that hope for the future, he is “pleased” with this program.
“This is where dreams are made,” said Martinous. “If you want to build a starship, this is where it begins.”