says that CCAC offers the program free of
charge to anyone with a high school diploma
or GED and who qualifies with an 11th
equivalency in a math and reading placement
exam, regardless of manufacturing
experience. Those with experience can start
in one of the higher level courses, but the
140-hour Certified Production Technician (CPT)
course gives students with no experience a
vital introduction. The course combines
class time and e-learning, and is offered
every three months, with the next beginning
complete the CPT course, or have prior
manufacturing experience, are eligible to
take a level one Advanced Manufacturing/
Integrated Systems Technology (AM/ IST)
course. Graduates of the CPT course are able
to fill a range of introductory
manufacturing jobs, from shipping, receiving
and traffic clerks, to team assemblers.
hours of instruction in the AM/IST course
can be completed in six months or less, says
Sylvia, and will prepare graduates for entry
in more technical troubleshooting and repair
that course can also advance to level two,
where students begin to focus on areas of
interest as they build systems that employ
motors, convert AC currents to DC, and
utilize electrical and mechanical systems.
The course goes beyond the learning premise
of level one, and students begin building
actual systems using information learned in
the first level to complete objectives laid
out in textbooks.
way, D. Paul Blackford and his fellow
instructors guide students and test them by
throwing figurative wrenches in their
systems that mimick real life situations.
With a twist of a valve or flip of a switch,
they create pressure drops and electrical
malfunctions that students must assess,
diagnose, and correct.
same systems, says Sylvia, are used in a
range of settings, from water filtration
plants to hospitals and schools. Graduates
can fill jobs such as electrical and
electronic equipment assemblers and perform
mechanical maintenance and machinery repair.
They can work fixing and maintaining
equipment at hospitals, in steel mills, and
in high schools and colleges.
don’t realize the extent to which technical
maintenance is used,” says Sylvia, pointing
out that they have some of their own people
taking the classes.
Throughout both levels, students also work
on Programmable Logic Controllers. Not much
bigger than a toaster, the computers are the
same as those used in factories, and
powerful enough to run one. They’re also the
same as those used by midstream companies at
compressor stations in the expanding
Marcellus Shale natural gas industry.
crosses over into a lot of different
industries,” says Sylvia.
CCAC’s introductory and level one
mechatronics courses have proven popular. As
of this writing, Sylvia says there are still
spots open for the upcoming CPT course, but
that the 14 spots for next mechatronics
course in September have already filled. She
expects the 15 to 20 spots for the upcoming
CPT class to fill up quickly as well.
mechatronics class is set to begin in March
of 2014. The grant making all the courses
free to students currently runs through next
September, but she says that the school is
continuing to pursue that and other grant
this year, CCAC will begin offering its
level three course in robotics and motion
control. During the course, students will
use machines similar to the PLC machines
they’ve been trained on to program actual
FANUC robots; the type that Paul says are
used by about 70% of factories in the U.S.
Using grant money, CCAC purchased three
robots, two of which are FANUC robots,
costing around $35,000 apiece. The robots,
about three feet in height, are smaller
versions of the kind often shown on
television assembling automobiles. Paul says
they use the same program functions,
commands, and motions of their big brothers.
making believe we have a factory,” says
Paul, who spent 25 years in the
manufacturing sector before coming to CCAC.
Kent State student and Navy machinist mate,
as well as an FMCC graduate, Paul journeyed
as an electrician and oversaw factories run
by Coleco Toys and Gerry Baby Products. He
modestly mentions that while at Gerry his
factory became so efficient that the company
brought three products lines back from
China. Over the summer, he instructed the
first three students entering into the level
two mechatronics course at CCAC West Hills.
those students was Sacha Pellaton, a
self-employed, South Vo-Tech graduate who
works as an auto mechanic. The trained
electrician says that he’s already had one
job offer in a related field at $70,000, and
is hoping to work in the oil and gas
industry. He says he’s looking at a job as a
field technician for a third party company
leasing equipment to a gas delivery company.
Currently, he says that the company is
flying technicians in from Louisiana to work
on equipment because of a lack of trained
summer, Sam Hinterlang, a level 1
mechatronics graduate, continued with the
level 2 mechatronics course through his
company, which runs a steel galvanizing
plant. Sam says his employer looked at the
curriculum, and saw an opportunity for him
and the company to benefit. Sam took the
class during down time at the company, and
continued to receive pay while taking the
level one and two courses two days per week.
“It’s free training,” he says. “Why would I
not want to do it?”