Rockwell Automation Donates Lab Equipment for University’s Electrical and Control Engineering Technology Program



Nov. 30, 2005 – Rockwell Automation and SMC Electric Supply, the appointed Rockwell distributor for this region, have donated nearly $84,000 in the form of a two-for-one equipment purchase to the School of Polytechnic Studies at Southeast Missouri State University. The equipment has been used to create an advanced industrial controls lab for the new electrical and control engineering technology program offered through the Department of Industrial & Engineering Technology.

The lab, which is located in the Otto and Della Seabaugh Polytechnic Building, features eight educational workstations that incorporate state-of-the-art instrumentation by Rockwell Automation, offering students hands-on experience in the advanced technology that is widely used in the manufacturing industry, including advanced PLCs, process control systems, automation, electromechanical systems, sensing systems, energy management and motor drive systems.

“Industrial support such as this is why our graduates are so successful, and a key reason why last year’s NAIT (National Association of Industrial Technology) reaccreditation team identified our program as a national benchmark program,” said Dr. Randy Shaw, dean of Southeast’s School of Polytechnic Studies.

Dr. Ragu Athinarayanan, chair of Southeast’s Department of Industrial and Engineering Technology, says this lab benefits both students and local industries.

“Nationally, there is an impending shortage of engineers and technicians who are familiar with power and motor drives and industrial electronics and controls,” Athinarayanan said. “At the local level there are many industries in the Southeast Missouri region that use a large number of motors, drives and their associated controls in daily operations,” he added. “With energy issues facing industries in the region, training and education on electric motor drives, which offer enormous potential for energy conservation, will soon become a necessity. The use of electric drives for motion control is also becoming essential to factory automation and for increasing productivity, so this laboratory will greatly benefit the industries we serve in the Southeast Missouri region. There is a great demand for our students, and industry employees, to be trained in the application of these technologies,” Athinarayanan said. 

The lab provides students with firsthand experience working with advanced process control and monitoring systems; energy management technologies for power monitoring, data collection and related software applications; drive system technologies for servo-drives and variable speed drives; electromechanical systems including relays, timers, starters and AC/DC motors; analog/discrete sensing devices; and communications protocols, according to Athinarayanan.

The laboratory also can be used as a regional training center for these types of technologies, Athinarayanan said. The Technology Resource Center (TRC), a partnership between Ameren, the School of Polytechnic Studies and the Missouri Enterprise, which provides industries with engineering, technical, energy conservation, research and training assistance, can use the lab to conduct customized training and seminar events for local industries, he said.

“We are proud to help the University improve the quality of education it provides,” said Michael Schott, operations manager of SMC Electric Supply. “This lab will allow professors to provide educational opportunities on the latest industrial automation equipment and will enhance the marketability of students when they graduate. This also helps improve the quality of the workforce in the Southeast Missouri region,” he said.