NEIT lab puts charge in student training – Providence Business News

Fantastic story from the Providence Business News about how New England Tech is training students for today’s manufacturing jobs.

STATE OF THE ART: New England Institute of Technology assistant professor Michael Eggeman and NEIT sophomore Gillian Eminger of Scituate examine the FMS- 200 in the newly completed automation lab for the school’s electrical engineering program. PBN PHOTO/ MICHAEL SALERNO

Source: NEIT lab puts charge in student training – Providence Business News

(Updated Jan. 19)

Stephen Koester, 23, prepared last fall to intern this academic quarter at the Providence office of Woodard & Curran, by using equipment in New England Institute of Technology’s updated electrical engineering lab.

The Portland, Maine-based environmental engineering firm is one of a handful that has a longstanding relationship with the school and hiring NEIT graduates, said NEIT alum and Woodard & Curran controls engineer Jeff Souza.

“When we go to the job fair, we look for people with good technical background [and] hands-on experience,” Souza said. “The equipment in the new lab is very up to date. The graduates come in and can do more things than graduates from other programs at other schools right off the bat.”

Launched about four years ago, the revamped Electrical Engineering Industrial Automation Lab has been upgraded with equipment to give practical, real-world experience, said assistant professor Michael Eggeman. Koester, a senior, has used the lab and is eager to see what he can do.

“We got to see the different type of controllers, like the Proportional Integral Derivative, [in which] the system tries to recalibrate back to a set point number,” explained Koester, likening the effect to that on a cruise-control system in a car. “The lab has a lot of up-to-date, relevant technology; it just gets us more used to what we might see when we graduate.”

NEIT installed equipment for the lab’s second phase of development last spring, and Koester was one of the first students to use a so-called process-control training rig, in which he and his peers could learn how to control the pressure, flow and level of fluids.

While the students use water in the hands-on lessons for safety, the control rig has applicability in such areas as pharmaceuticals and water treatment systems, where chemicals are used, Eggeman said.

About 50 students a year are enrolled in NEIT’s 18-month electrical engineering bachelor’s degree program, which is undertaken following completion of the 18-month electrical technology associate degree, the professor said.

In addition to the process control training rig, Eggeman said, there are six workstations that give hands-on experience, and four others called the Flexible Manufacturing System, or FMS 200.

Up and running in fall 2014, the six workstations provide real equipment, like a motor, for instance, instead of so-called “trainer cases,” which hold devices in a suitcase-like container and only simulate the effect of correct electrical engineering coding.

So, when a student correctly writes and programs electrical code to control the function of a pump or motor, instead of a light turning on the way it does in a trainer case to show it’s working properly, the pump or motor at a workstation will kick into action, he said.

While the trainer cases are still in use, Eggeman said, “Slowly but surely, we’re rolling the workstations into the classes and the curriculum.”

Students also learn how to communicate over several industrial automation networks.

Built about eight years ago, the FMS 200 more realistically simulates the manufacturing environment in which component pieces are assembled into a final, though still simulated, product. It is used primarily for troubleshooting exercises by testing for 48 different potential bugs, Eggeman said.

Originally located on the Warwick campus, these stations were underutilized by associate degree students and consequently moved to the East Greenwich campus in early 2015, he said.

“It completed the lab,” he explained. “It allowed us to have a system in there so I could go in as the instructor and flip a couple of switches behind a locked door and all of a sudden the system doesn’t work anymore and students have to troubleshoot why.”

Eddie DiPasquale, 22, of Mahopac, N.Y., is an NEIT senior who has been writing code for programmable logic controllers, where a computer controls product production. The lab provides experience, not just textbook knowledge, he said.

“It gives you a real-world application in a classroom setting,” DiPasquale said. “We’re using equipment that gets used in the field. I think it gives us a competitive edge, because we actually get to use the equipment hands-on.”

Souza’s firm and Eric Freitas, president of the Control Automation Group in Warwick, say they’ve hired several NEIT graduates over the past few years. Souza has hired 20 for a staff that numbers about 40, while Freitas has hired five for a staff of about 20.

“All the components I use to design a machine, [NEIT students] are exposed to that in the lab, so they already know what it is and what it does,” Freitas said. •

Congratulations, Lisa Reed

Lisa Reed TTSurgical Technology Professor and Department Chair Lisa S. Reed, CST, RN, MS, CNOR, CPEHR, CPHIT, has been recognized by the Fellows of the Association of Surgical Technologists (F.A.S.T.). The Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) awards this recognition only to those surgical technologists whose professional activities have been devoted to the practice of surgical technology, and who abide by the AST Code of Ethics and standards of practice. Individuals awarded the F.A.S.T. commit and adhere to these ethics and standards of practice.

The F.A.S.T. began in 2006 as an opportunity to recognize surgical technologists who have achieved the highest professional standards. Congratulations to Lisa for her continued commitment to the field of surgical technology.

How Much Protection Does a College Degree Afford?

The worth of a Rhode Island college degreePast research from Pew’s Economic Mobility Project has shown the power of a college education to both promote upward mobility and prevent downward mobility.

In the wake of the Great Recession, however, many have questioned whether the advantageous market situation of college graduates has suffered under the pressure of the economic downturn.

This report, How Much Protection Does a College Degree Afford?, explores whether recent college graduates weathered the recession more successfully than less-educated groups. Using data from the 2003–2011 Current Population Survey for 21- through 24-year-olds, it reveals that a four-year college degree helped shield recent graduates from a range of poor outcomes during the Great Recession, including unemployment, low-skill jobs, and lesser wages.

Key Findings

  • Although all 21–24-year-olds experienced declines in employment and wages during the recession, the decline was considerably more severe for those with only high school or associate degrees.
  • The comparatively high employment rate of recent college graduates was not driven by a sharp increase in those settling for lesser jobs or lower wages.
  • The share of non-working graduates seeking further education did not change markedly during the recession.
  • Out-of-work college graduates were able to find jobs during the downturn with more success than their less-educated counterparts.

The findings show a real deterioration over the course of the recession in the market position of recent college graduates.  However, these effects were quite small when compared with those experienced by high school and associate degree-holders.

 

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