Nemak engineer Steven Mims presented the ABB Model 120 robot, a tabletop version of the large machines in use at the company’s facility near Sylacauga. Mims has previously volunteered with the Career and Technical Education Department, teaching the students the basics of robotics. He explained how programming robots is a skill that will carry today’s students far for decades to come.
He said robotics creates two types of jobs – operations and programming – and that programmers are paid up to $50,000 more per year than operators.
“The decisions you make in the next few years will affect the next 40 years of your life,” he told the students. “The harder you work and the more you learn, the better you will do. Aim high, and if you hit in the middle you’ll still be doing pretty good,” he said.
Nemak official Josh Pinson said the company constantly has job openings for qualified robotics programmers.
Christie Caine, career and technical education director for Sylacauga city schools, said the Region 5 Work Force Development Council has recognized robotics as a need among employers in South Talladega County, and the Nemak donation – worth thousands of dollars – will help Sylacauga and Talladega County schools and Central Alabama Community College meet that need.
Using 21st Century Work Force Development grants, those three entities are working together with community partners such as Nemak to give students a firm foundation as they head into the working world.
“We’re very excited about what this partnership will mean to our students,” Caine said. “We want to get students involved before they graduate.”
Dr. Susan Burrow, president of Central Alabama Community College, said, “The support of industry partners is integral to making these programs work.”
Caine added, “Nemak has been an extremely valuable partner. They’ve been heavily involved in helping to educate our students over the last several years and to help meet the need for skilled labor in our area. I just think it shows the true partnership between industry, the community and education to try to help our area. We’re developing workers and helping students understand the careers that are out there for them.”
The schools also plan to focus strongly on career training for healthcare, programmable logic controlling (PLC), and precision machining, Caine said.
“We’re also working to educate parents on the need for this training and the amount of money and success an individual can have in these careers. There are so many opportunities in these programs,” Caine said. “Technical programs are so much more advanced now than in years past, because the needs are so much more specialized.”
Caine added that local employers can use the resources of the schools’ partnership to train their employees. “They don’t have to travel to Chicago or Atlanta. We can set that up at their convenience.”
Contact Bill Kimber at firstname.lastname@example.org.