Mechatronics training strengthens career in packaging machinery

Rick Lingle in Automation on December 02, 2014

How are future packaging machinery field-service techs made? Logan Lange, a student in the Automated Packaging Systems Technician Program at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC), New Richmond, WI, tells his story.

 

Tell us what sparked your interest in machinery.

Lange: I originally became interested in machines growing up on a farm. I knew I wanted to work in a field related to mechanical movement and, after touring the Automated Packaging Systems Technician Program at WITC, I knew it would be a good fit for my background.

 

Why did you choose WITC?

Lange: I chose WITC because of the small campus and all-around small town, one-on-one feel with all of the instructors. The classes are specific to the packaging field and prepare you well with a work-oriented future.

 

What do you hope to get from the program by the time you graduate?

Lange: I hope to be prepared with an in-depth mechatronics background to start my career right after I graduate. And with the way the program is planned, I fully expect to be employed.

 

What’s been the most surprising thing in your time there?

Lange: I think that has been the way that the information you learn, for example an electro-mechanical class, applies to everyday life. The fact you wouldn’t think you would use the information you learn in classes like that will apply in more ways than one to your career is surprising.

 

What’s your most challenging project or activity and what did you learn from it?

Lange: The most challenging class was my AC/DC class. I knew very little about the way electricity works. The class started from the ground-up, covering both AC and DC Power and Control Circuits and, by the end of the class, I had a great foundation to build upon with a further in-depth electro-mechanical class.

We also worked on large packaging machines in our lab that looked very intimidating when I first saw them.  Later, my courses in print reading fluid power systems, power transmission components and processes and materials helped me with my knowledge and skills to become an effective troubleshooter on complex packaging systems.

 

What’s been the most beneficial course and why?

Lange: I think that, by the time I graduate, my programmable logic controller (PLC) class will be the most beneficial. It all depends on what kind of job I land, but having a good PLC background is quite important in the automated packaging industry.

 

Where do you envision yourself in five years?

Lange: I would like to get involved with a company and maybe do some assembly to get familiar with the product and company. Then I’d like to move into a field-service tech job.

 

What’s one piece of advice you’d share with others considering WITC or other technical college?

Lange: If you are unsure about choosing a two-year college, just make sure that it is going to prepare you fully for the job that you want when you graduate. I attended UW Stout for one year for a Packaging Engineering Degree and I figured that out by the time I graduate because the job that I was studying to get was really not the one I wanted. I think that a two-year, hands-on program such as WITC is a great option for someone who loves working with their hands and knows they want a mechanical job when they graduate.

 

For more information on Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, contact Kevin Lipsky, WITC’s Automated Packaging Systems Technician instructor at the New Richmond, WI, campus.

 

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