Courtesy Steve Yingling, Western Nevada College
Travelling more than 11,400 miles round trip isn’t too far for Western Nevada College to elevate its advanced manufacturing program with the latest strategies and training tools through partnerships with international industrial technology giants.
Emily Howarth, WNC’s Professor of Electronics and Industrial Technology, has made multiple visits to Germany to augment her teaching skills and credentials to ensure that the college is offering the best courses and programs for Nevada’s growing technical workforce. Partnerships with Siemens, Europe’s largest industrial manufacturing company, and Festo, a worldwide leader in pneumatic and electrical automation, have strengthened the college’s connections and resources for high-tech and hands-on learning.
Recently, Howarth earned her Siemens Mechatronic Systems Level 2 instructor credential in Berlin, making her part of a select group to hold this elite vendor-neutral certification. This gives Howarth a skill set covering a wealth of modern technology found in manufacturing, logistics, and distribution environments with a focus on a preventive and predictive approach to supporting systems.
“My Level 2 training session and all of my visits to Germany have been extremely valuable as I create the coursework for WNC and prepare to engage and encourage students to follow through on the next level of technical training and industry credentials,” Howarth said. “Western Nevada College has been recognized as a leader in visionary teaching and learning through our programs that prepare students to enter the workforce above entry level, and also to cultivate technicians that work in the field as they climb ladders through advanced knowledge and skills.”
Howarth’s Level 2 instructor training group was comprised of Level 1 instructors from around the world, including Dubai, Ireland, Canada, Germany and the eastern United States.
Central to WNC’s industrial technology programs are partnerships with large employers such as Click Bond, Tesla and Panasonic in addition to many small Nevada businesses that utilize industrial systems technicians.
“They closely guide the content and delivery of our programs in the industrial technology area,” she said. “Developing curriculum with input from our advisory employers in conjunction with the first-hand international view of successful technical education programs allows WNC to prepare excellent candidates for local career positions. Traditional lecture classes or self-service labs are not enough to prepare the technical workforce, and we are constantly seeking out the best approaches, tools and materials for Nevadans and Nevada employers.”
Moving up to Level 2 certification allows Howarth to teach six more courses on the topics of microcontrollers and microprocessors, more in-depth mechanical systems and machine elements, motors and motor controls, automation software, manufacturing processes and process controls. These courses are designed to not only prepare students to pass the certification exams but to develop and strengthen their technical mindset and ability to analyze systems and situations.
“The paradigm of the Siemens mechatronics program is unique: It focuses on an approach to a complex system that ensures students understand the relevance of what we are learning and practicing,” Howarth said. “Everything is applied and relevant to our industrial training systems that are built from the same components found in Northern Nevada facilities.”
Through the accelerated program MechTech, WNC is offering Level 1 technician training sessions this summer — the next session is Aug. 6-17 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, with the exam on the final afternoon of class. Manufacturers can send their employees through this prestigious local training without travel expenses, and technicians can enroll themselves directly if they want to pursue this option independently. There are some scholarships available and the fee for the course covers all materials, 80 hours of in-class instruction and the certification exam. Howarth will also teach Level 1 and Level 2 classes at night during upcoming 16-week fall semester.
This training program is available in Carson City through a partnership between WNC and Siemens Professional Education and is not offered anywhere else in the Western U.S. Enrollees can gain this respected credential in a small class with other technicians from Northern Nevada industries. The technical program of study covers electrical, mechanical, fluid power and PLC (programmable logic controller) control systems intertwined to form modern automation, as found in high-tech Northern Nevada manufacturing, logistics and distribution facilities.
“Professor Howarth recently returned from Spartanburg, S.C., where she joined Siemens as a technical instructor trainer with the SMSCP. She helped prepare a new class of instructors to qualify for Level 1 training certification,” said WNC Career and Technical Education Director Dr. Georgia White.
Students can take these courses for college credit both during the traditional semester or in the MechTech accelerated retail model that condenses all of the class meetings into two intensive study weeks. Both programs require prior college coursework or field experience and they both will demand out-of-class study and preparation for class activities during the training period.
Individuals with Siemens Mechatronic Systems certification contribute to an industrial organizations’ productivity through increased troubleshooting abilities, and these technicians elevate their own ability to keep systems running smoothly and minimize downtime. These technicians bring adaptive expertise to the automation production systems of manufacturers and distribution centers of all sizes and across all industries.