Academia and industry partnership: Building state-of-the-art industrial control and automation laboratory

Aleksandr Sergeyev, Nasser Alaraje, James O. Frendewey, Mohsen Azizi

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Programmable Logical Controller (PLC) is an integral part of nearly all today's industrial processes. A PLC is a digital computer used for automation of electromechanical processes and is designed for multiple inputs and output arrangements, extended temperature ranges, immunity to electrical noise, and resistance to vibration and impact. The most up-to-date PLCs have endless functionality, including programming using functional blocks, multitasking, and communication capabilities, and therefore are widely employed by the industrial sector. It is also very common that PLC systems are integrated with robotic solutions to enhance automation processes. As a result, the skills of newly employed industrial workers must include the knowledge of PLC, controls, and robotics. In addition, the knowledge of integration of all these tools in one efficient automated process suiting the requirements of modern industrial environment is crucial. Michigan Technological University prepares the graduates with the skill sets which are up-to-date and relevant to the modern technologies widely employed by the modern industrial world. We strive to train our graduates on the most up-to-date laboratory equipment so they can implement their knowledge on the day one once employed. Michigan Tech collaborates with NUCOR Steel to update the currently outdated PLC laboratory with the state of the art equipment with the goal of providing our students with the best training solution possible. The EET program at Michigan Tech currently offers two PLC courses: EET 3373 Introduction to Programmable Controllers and EET 4373 Advanced Programmable Controllers. The ECE department offers EE3261 Control Systems and EE 4262 Digital and Non-linear Control. The EET courses have a significant lab component and stress hands-on use of PLC's, while ECE courses have more of a mathematical flavor and also include a lab experience. The new lab facility would allow EET 3373 and EET 4373 to be revised and enhanced to make the courses appropriate for both ECE and EET students. Students from both disciplines would benefit from using the most current PLC technology and would have the opportunity to interface the PLC's with a new and much expanded set of digital and analog devices that are used in industry. In addition, the new equipment will allow us to develop industry-relevant learning materials, and provide state-of the-art knowledge and experience to students utilizing the facility. This knowledge and experience will result in a well-educated graduate with practical hands-on experience designing, configuring, and troubleshooting industrial control systems, with an obvious benefit to employers of these graduates. In this article we discuss the benefits of academia and industry collaboration, the structure of new industrial control and automation laboratory, state-of-the art PLC and Mechatronics stations integrated with FANUC robots, and resulting curriculum modifications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
Volume122nd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Making Value for Society
Issue number122nd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Making Value for...
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes
Event2015 122nd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Seattle, United States
Duration: Jun 14 2015Jun 17 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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