By Tiffany Salameh | September 17, 2019
GOSHEN, Ind. – Robotics in the workforce is becoming more commonplace. That’s why Ivy Tech in Elkhart is going to start training their students to work hands on with automation with the help of a $1.47 million contribution from the county council.
The money is going towards an entire “iFlex” robotics lab which will streamline the process for students between class and the workforce.
“it’s going to go towards two things really building a facility and making sure that we have the appropriate infrastructure, equipment, that we need to train students,” Natalie Medich said, the Advanced Manufacturing, Robotic and Industrial Tech Chair at Ivy Tech. “It’s actually very vital. Our businesses are moving towards automation for our manufacturing facilities.
Factories like Thor Motors and Lippert Components are already using some robots similar to the ones at Ivy Tech College right now.
Back in 2015, the Brookings Institute ranked Elkhart County #1 in the nation for robots per 1,000 workers. Medich said that with the new lab workforces in Elkhart are likely just going to keep growing with automated technology.
“That type of training is rare here in Elkhart County,” Medich said.
Ivy Tech student and robotics lab tech Paul Troxel said the new facility is both exciting and necessary. On top of his class load, Troxel also works fulltime at Lippert Components, working with robots.
“It’s going to be everywhere, I already know the plant across the street have got two full size robots they’re going automated with, we have a couple of more plants with automation cells in them and I know there’s just more coming,” Troxel said.
Despite common misconception, Medich said automation does not always take away jobs. In manufacturing, it brings better and higher paying jobs. A heavily automated start-up company called Brinco just announced plans to bring 250 jobs to Bristol by 2021.
Both Medich and Troxel agree that automation is nothing to be scared of but rather welcomed.
“Just embrace the change. This is the way it’s going to be,” Troxel said.
The new robotics facility is scheduled to break ground in summer of 2020.