Earlier this month, Elgin Community College received a donation of high-tech equipment and other items from BBS Automation Chicago, Inc. valued at $27,000. The equipment will be used to teach and train students in the Integrated Systems Technology (IST) program.
“After we complete a project, we have all this equipment, from robots to smaller machine components, we can’t use anymore,” said Celeste Michaelson, Director of Human Resources at BBS Automation. “Instead of it just sitting on our shelves, we wanted to give it to ECC, so students can use it and learn on it. These are future employees of BBS, and we want them to have the best equipment to learn with.”
The donated items include a Mitsubishi robotic arm, motor components, different drive actuators with mounted sensors, programmable logic equipment, which includes push buttons, sensors, servo-drives, and I/O modules, pneumatic equipment that ranges from push connectors to an assortment control valves, pressure gauges, and distribution blocks. The large skids of heavy equipment were delivered by D/C Transport at no cost to the college.
“This equipment is going to help faculty explain how everything works to students,” said Michael Marin, ECC instructor of HVAC. “They can see the sensors and actuators in action, giving them an understanding of the internal workings of the equipment.”
The donation also includes light curtains used in the field as safety equipment, which will help students develop good safety practices as well.
The donation came about because of the relationship BBS Automation and ECC have established through the college’s apprenticeship program. There are currently four apprentices earning a salary and employer-paid tuition at BBS Automation; in January, they will increase to five apprentices.
“This is a great example of our apprenticeship program as a two-way street,” said Kathy Meisinger, director of strategic partnerships and experiential learning. “Our partners trust ECC’s highly qualified faculty to train students on the most advanced equipment possible, allowing a seamless transition from the classroom to the work floor.”
Marin added, “Donated equipment helps us train students on a wide variety of machines and technology. Just the robotic arm itself is an exciting piece to have, but to have all the additional parts and pieces for the students learn with is awesome.”