HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, has become the first American school to join Phoenix Contact’s EduNet program. EduNet is an international education network that brings together schools and industry in the field of automation technology.
Phoenix Contact and HACC officials announced the partnership on Oct. 5, 2015, during the dedication of a new automation lab at HACC’s Midtown Trade and Technology Center in Harrisburg. Phoenix Contact’s contributions through the EduNet program include donating equipment for the lab. This gives students hands-on access to several Phoenix Contact ILC controller and PROFINET starter kits, the same type of equipment they might use once they graduate and work on the manufacturing floor.
Instructors will also receive a curriculum and free training sessions throughout the year. This includes the opportunity to travel internationally to attend a conference where they can network and exchange knowledge with EduNet teachers from other countries. Registration for the conference is free, courtesy of Phoenix Contact GmbH & Co. KG, of Blomberg, Germany, while Phoenix Contact USA will help cover the cost of travel.
Phoenix Contact and HACC previously collaborated on other science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education initiatives. Most prominently, they designed and implemented a Mechatronics Apprenticeship program in 2011. Over a four-year period, apprentices simultaneously work at Phoenix Contact while pursuing an associate degree in mechatronics at HACC, at no cost to the apprentice.
In 2013, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Apprenticeship and Training Council and the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship recognized Phoenix Contact as an official apprenticeship and training sponsor and the first in the state to offer a mechatronics apprenticeship program. This means the program is available to any company that wants to start its own mechatronics program using the Phoenix Contact/HACC program as a model.
“As Central Pennsylvania looks to increase manufacturing jobs, STEM education is the keystone to developing a workforce with the skills to fill these jobs,” said Jack Nehlig, president of Phoenix Contact USA. “Our mechatronics partnership with HACC is a great example of STEM in action. To date, six students have graduated, and we have two more currently enrolled. We hope HACC is the first of many American colleges and universities who take advantage of the learning and networking opportunities EduNet can provide.”