RI robot maker building a bridge over workforce skills gap

New England Institute of Technology’s (NEIT) NEW Associate Degree program in Advanced Manufacturing Technology has been developed in conjunction with companies like Yushin America to address a critical need for its workforce.

The new Advanced Manufacturing Technology degree, as part of NEIT’s Bachelor’s degree in Manufacturing Engineering Technology, is designed to assist employers in hiring individuals with the right skills. Yushin America in Cranston, RI, has hired more than 60 NEIT graduates of the Manufacturing Engineering Technology program.

From Providence Journal:

Tom Gilbride, an automation and robotic technician, teaches and aligns a robot at the Yushin plant in Cranston. Governor Raimondo last month spotlighted the company as an example of advanced manufacturing — the high-tech, high-end descendant of the manufacturing that sustained Rhode Island for centuries before yielding to overseas competition. The Providence Journal/Mary Murphy

Nicholas Salcedo, a robotics technician at Yushin, an advanced manufacturer in Cranston, gets a robotic arm ready to run specified actions before it is shipped to a company in Texas to be integrated into that company’s automation. The Providence Journal/Mary Murphy

 

Rhode Islanders may do a double-take when they hear Governor Raimondo talk about manufacturing as a key to reviving the economy and creating jobs.

After all, isn’t manufacturing all about the past? Doesn’t she see all those closed brick factories?  Didn’t manufacturing jobs peak in the 1940s, and haven’t they been sliding ever since?

But Raimondo is talking about a different type of manufacturing, called advanced manufacturing, that produces precise, engineered-to-order, high-end products for the medical-device, defense, aerospace and other industries.

This manufacturing is all about the future, and it pays middle-income wages.

But she pointed out they are not the low-skill manufacturing jobs of the past, but newer, advanced manufacturing jobs that require highly trained workers. Rhode Island should be primed to take advantage.

“We need the skills to fill the jobs that are our opportunity,” she said.

After Raimondo visited the Yushin America facility in Cranston last month to outline her plan to create jobs and revamp the state’s workforce training system, I talked with Michael Greenhalgh, operations director at Yushin.

He said Yushin, a unit of Yushin Precision Equipment Co. Ltd. of Japan, is completing a $2-million expansion and wants to hire 14 more workers. Some would be at a starting pay of $12 to $13 an hour. Others would be paid about $50,000 a year.

But, Greenhalgh can’t find workers with the skills he needs.

But the real answer is more qualified candidates coming out of the vocational and technical schools or colleges, or better training of workers who are in transition from declining industries.

It’s a good idea, but I don’t think Rhode Island can wait years for a regional solution.

State leaders should already be working to figure out how to close the skills gap.

The state has fallen behind its neighbors in advanced manufacturing. But with the right focus and commitment, there’s no reason it can’t catch up and overtake its competitors.

Manufacturing, an old industry that’s retooling for the future, deserves a solid second look.

Source: John Kostrzewa: R.I. robot maker building a bridge over workforce skills gap – News – providencejournal.com – Providence, RI

 

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MCT Students Earn Their “Yellow Belt”

From left: Instructors Steve Russo, Jennifer Hurley, and Annie Unger; Students Steven Gagne, Sarah Berthiaume, Alexandrea Pimentel, Vishnu Harnarine, Gregory Pickering; Department Chair Dean Plowman.

From left: Instructors Steve Russo, Jennifer Hurley, and Annie Unger; Students Steven Gagne, Sarah Berthiaume, Alexandrea Pimentel, Vishnu Harnarine, Gregory Pickering; Department Chair Dean Plowman.

The term “Yellow Belt” has taken on a new meaning from the world of karate at New England Tech. On January 21, 2015, 13 Mechanical Engineering Technology (MCT) students earned the Six Sigma DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) Yellow Belt certification. Through NEIT’s Automation and Processing Controls class, these outstanding students learned the quality control skills and methodology necessary to prepare them for process excellence.

Six Sigma certification is a confirmation of an individual’s capabilities with respect to specific quality control competencies. Similar to other quality certifications, Six Sigma students must learn the appropriate subject matter, pass a written proficiency test, and display competency in a hands-on environment. There are several different bodies of knowledge and preparation time for each Six Sigma level (White Belt, Yellow Belt, Green Belt, Black Belt, and Master Black Belt)..

Utilization of Six Sigma implementation leads to reduced costs, increased revenues, improved process speed and higher quality levels. Students learn to solve problems methodically and thoroughly, evaluate a measurement system, and close significant projects. Emphasis is placed on the process steps required to ensure successful completion of challenging projects and deliver bottom-line results.

Special thanks to Sensata Technologies of Attleboro, Massachusetts, for providing technical expertise to NEIT to incorporate Six Sigma DMAIC certification into its Mechanical Engineering Technology curriculum. This certification is recognized by today’s engineering and automation industries giving NEIT graduates a competitive edge when seeking employment.

Congratulations to Brian Dilworth, Adam Faucher, Matthew Irvine, Alexandrea Pimentel, Richard Sharkey, Jared Walker, Sarah Berthiaume, Steven Gagne, Vishnu Harnarine, Michael Osipowicz, Gregory Pickering, Jake Surprenant, and Kenneth Young.

Clash of robots puts technology skills to test

Fantastic story in the Warwick Beacon highlighting the First Robotics competition that took place on our campus over the weekend. Congratulations to all who competed.

via Clash of robots puts technology skills to test – Warwick Beacon.

While most were focused on the big New England Patriots game, the students who participated in Saturday’s For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) competition proved that they, too, were the weekend’s real winners.

“I would say the majority of these kids do not participate in sports,” joked Warwick Veterans Memorial High School robotics team coach Larry West.  “They’ve put a lot of time and effort into this, and this contest gives kids another way to compete rather than through sports.”

Hundreds of students and spectators filled the New England Institute of Technology’s Center for Automotive Technology (NEIT) building with Super Bowl sized enthusiasm. They’d come for a competition featuring deflate-proof wiffle and ping-pong balls, and tech savvy young adults who’d journeyed for months to engage in futuristic robot skirmishes.

“We’ve put over 150 hours into this, definitely,” said lead programmer Kevin Sanita of the Veterans team, which goes by the name Cane Bots. “It’s intense.”

The daylong event was a flurry of activity that made Star Trek’s faster than light warp drive technology seem slow and outdated by comparison. Thirty-three teams, comprised of 250 middle and high school students from throughout the state, met to showcase robots that they’d designed, built and programmed.

“Today our hope is that the students participating enjoy the competition while at the same time use math and engineering principals to win,” said Steve Kitchin, NEIT’s Vice President for Corporate Education and Training.

The competition gives teens programming and prototype development experience and problem solving and team building skills while constructing robots to competition specifications. Winning teams go on to compete at regional and national competitions for college scholarships. Dozens of robots filled the center, partaking in a series of contests with serious sets of rules and guidelines.

“We understand that ensuring that young people have opportunities like this, and begin to think of careers in science and engineering, are critical to the future of our state,” said Congressman David Cicilline at the event. “In addition to being great fun, watching [students] do this gives us a lot of hope in the future of our state and country.”

Warwick’s contingent of students was well represented by both public and private schools, with Vets, Rocky Hill School and Bishop Hendricken participating.

“This is a culmination of their four months of efforts in trying to put this robot together to accomplish these tasks,” said Hendricken coach Rick Notardonato, whose team went through three robot designs this season. Their robot’s name is Robo Hawk. “This is an opportunity for them to do hands on learning that they don’t really have an opportunity to do in any of their classes, it’s really big for them,” he said.

The contest pits teams against one another as their robots completed automated- and team-guided tasks. The competition was closely monitored by referees and judges to ensure fairness and quality.

“I’m an engineer, and I think this is so important for kids. I absolutely love it,” said Helen Greathouse, who served as head judge for the eighth year. “There’s a gracious professionalism that’s such a big part of this event. We like to see teams helping each other. One team gave another a new battery; they loan each other tools. There’s almost an alliance between teams that may have never worked together before.”

The contest saw tremendous excitement early on with Warwick Vets team stunning the crowd by performing exceptionally well during an early round. Their high score came in the “Cascade Effect” event, where robots collect and strategically place wiffle and ping-pong balls.

“We’ve had one competition so far and we’re on our way to our second,” said Sanita after the round. “The first one, the autonomous part didn’t go exactly as planned, but it was very close. We got good points, we got 384 points in that round!”

“Did you see what Vets did during that round? That may be a national scoring record, that was an incredible performance,” said Hendricken coach Notardonato.

While the competition saw the Aquidneck Island, Burrillville and Mt. Hope teams advance to the Eastern Super Regional Tournament in Scranton, Pa. in March, the Warwick Vets team’s success in the competition was recognized when they received the competition’s Think Award.

According to competition rules, the judged Think Award is given to the team that best reflects the “journey” the team took as they experienced the engineering design process during the season. The team’s engineering notebook, a log kept throughout the year, is the reference used by judges in determining the award.

“This competition is a cross curricular format. There’s English used, the kids have to maintain a notebook for this, and math and programming go hand and hand,” said coach West. “I’m just really proud of the kids for getting together and working so well.”

Regardless of the final outcome, it was clear that all the students involved were winners for achieving so much from their positive experiences.

“I’d like to thank everyone involved in this, it’s been amazing,” said programmer Sanita. “Whether or not we win, it’s still amazing what we did, and it’s amazing what all these people here did.”

Read more at The Warwick Beacon.

Employer Feedback

All of the recent NEIT graduates that we interviewed seemed to have real life knowledge and experiences to help them get started in their field of expertise.  NEIT is doing a wonderful job getting their students prepared for work experience.”

– Dawn Rubino, Director of Human Resources, Stolberger Inc. dba, Wardwell Braiding Co.

 

Deflate-gate: Mechanical Engineering Weighs-In

Everyone is talking about what is being called ‘deflate-gate’ and no matter where you stand on the subject there is a technical side to this story.  New England Tech’s Mechanical Engineering Department Chair, Dean Plowman talked to RJ Heim of WJAR yesterday.

From WJAR news report:

With ESPN reporting that 11 of the 12 Patriots’ game footballs were 2 pounds per square inch below the regulation minimum of 12.5 pounds, it’s important to note that different air temperatures make a difference on the pressure.

“The temperature is always going to be a variable, just like (with) your car tires. The car tires are always changing their pressure based on (air) temperature,” Dean Plowman of the New England Institute of Technology said.

The gas going in the football, presuming it is air, is mostly nitrogen at 78 percent and oxygen at 21 percent. But with higher humidity — it was raining at the Sunday night game — water content can be as high as 6 percent, displacing the previous gasses.

“So, if I fill a football at 71 degrees to 12.5 psi (pounds per square inch) and I take that ball outside to 51 degrees, the pressure inside that ball is going to drop proportionally relative to that temperature drop,” Plowman said.

So, with a 20-degree temperature drop, that would mean at most a half pound of pressure difference inside the ball.

Even accounting for the temperature difference and its effect on the pressure in the football, it would still leave the balls in question with reportedly a pound-and-a-half of pressure below the regulation limit. How that happened is the question.

“To do something like that is a lot of work. So, why would you even risk, you know, doing that?” Plowman said.

$120 Million Expansion Project is underway

1-ExpansionNew England Institute of Technology continues to grow! Now entering the second phase of its $250,000,000 development program at the East Greenwich campus, President Richard I. Gouse announced plans for expanding academic facilities and programs along with the construction of the college’s first on-campus residence hall.

Phase 2 of the expansion project will include the following improvements:

  • More than 300,000 square feet of new facilities.
  • A new 400-bed, on-campus dormitory.
  • Expanded classroom space, focusing on information technology capability.
  • A new student dining area.
  • Expanded amenities for students including a fitness center.
  • The development of a college ‘green’ open space area.
  • Infrastructure upgrades to the college’s 226-acre campus in electrical, water, sewer, drainage, and traffic flow.

President Gouse stated, “This expansion will make New England Tech the region’s largest provider of collegiate level technology-driven training.” In addition, new and expanded programs will be offered that will include advanced manufacturing, health sciences, architecture, engineering, and Digital Media Production (previously known as video/audio production.)

New England Tech has recently completed several significant projects:

  • The creation of an information technology workforce training initiative dedicated to meeting the 21st century information technology needs of the region’s employers.
  • Accreditation renewal by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, through its Commission on Institutions of Higher Education.
  • Expansion of NEIT’s nursing simulation laboratory making the college New England’s largest and most comprehensive health science education facility.
  • Working with the Town of East Greenwich and the State Department of Transportation, NEIT has completed two major transportation projects to assist with traffic flow in the campus area.
  • Since 2005, nearly 12,000 students have graduated from NEIT securing employment with more than 4,000 companies, 2000 of them in Rhode Island.
  • New England Tech is proud to begin its 75th year of operation and will mark this milestone with anniversary events throughout the year.

President Gouse concluded, “On behalf of our entire college community, I am pleased to announce this commitment to our students, faculty and staff. The first two phases in our campus development will represent a $250 million dollar investment in Rhode Island and our host community, East Greenwich. This economic development investment will place our college at the most advanced levels of workforce training for 21st century employment.”

New Automation Lab Is Now Open

New England Tech has collaborated with Rockwell Automation, Inc., Marlborough, Massachusetts division, in the development of a new automation lab for students enrolled in the college’s Bachelor of Science Degree program in Electrical Engineering Technology (ELT). Rockwell Automation’s personnel and New England Tech faculty worked together to procure the equipment needed to create six new work stations. Through hands-on learning, students will acquire the high tech automation and process control skills required in the manufacturing industry.  

NEIT has also added the Instron 5982 Advanced Mechanical Testing System to train students in the Civil Engineering and Mechanical Engineering Technologies. Using this equipment, students can evaluate mechanical properties of materials and components used in a variety of industries such as automotive, aerospace, and major highway/bridge construction. 

For more information on New England Tech’s over 40 associate, bachelor’s, master’s and online degree programs, call 800-736-7744, 401-467-7744, or email NEITAdmissions@neit.edu

 

Welcome, Liz Robberson

Liz RobbersonLiz Robberson has joined NEIT’s Office of Student Support Services with an extensive background in career counseling. She previously served as the School to Career Coordinator at William M. Davies, Jr. Career and Technical High School as well as the Senior Career Educator and Communications and Marketing Project Coordinator at Johnson & Wales University.

Liz’s educational background includes a Master’s Degree in Education in Teaching and Learning from Johnson & Wales University and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English/Secondary Education from Rhode Island College.

She will be assisting students enrolled in the following technologies: Architectural Building, Civil Engineering, Construction Management, Cyber Security, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, Electronic Systems Engineering, Information Technology (Bachelor’s and Master’s level), Interior Design and Respiratory Care.

 

Derby the dog: Running on 3D Printed Prosthetics

This video will bring you to tears. I know it brought me to tears. 3D Printing continues to change both the lives of people and dogs, unlike anything before.

To learn how you can get started learning about 3D printing, contact Admissions by phone at 401-467-7744 ext. 3357 or by email at NEITAdmissions@neit.edu.

Mechanical Engineering Faculty Are Published

Mech Eng. ArtCongratulations to Christopher Vasconselos, an adjunct instructor in the Mechanical Engineering Technology (MCT) department who authored an article published in the July/August 2014 issue of The Home Shop Machinist magazine. The article titled, “Building Henry Ford’s First Stationary Internal Combustion Engine”, Part One, is Chris’ sixth published article with a couple more in the works. Ed Martins, also an MCT adjunct instructor, co-wrote the second half of this article and helped Chris get this engine up and running. This engine was Henry Ford’s first stationary internal combustion engine and was built 3 years before his Quadricycle. Chris also serves at the Faculty Advisor for NEIT’s Quadricycle Club.