Students have more opportunities for hands-on training for occupations in high demand locally in the new lab space for Manufacturing and Energy Technology in new Little Bear Peak on the Larimer Campus.

“The lab is much bigger,” says Ken Floyd, program director. “There’s room for all our trainers, which allow four students working at a time. It’s the center point of our second-year instruction.”

Computer access at all lab stations

There’s also a computer at each student work station in the lab, and ample room for all the industrial electronics lab equipment.

With the lab space adjoining the classroom, instructors also have the flexibility to split a class, with half in the classroom and half in the lab.

Solar array relocated, positioned better

The program’s solar array – solar panels mounted on a low-rise roof – has been relocated to just steps outside the classroom. And the south-facing array is better positioned for tracking the path of the sun.

20kW steam turbine power plant

Manufacturing and Energy Technology has a steam turbine power plant capable of producing 20 kW of electricity. The power plant is located at the Colorado State University Powerhouse Energy Campus at 430 N. College Ave. in north Fort Collins. Energy generated is fed into the Powerhouse smart grid.

Locating at a CSU campus offers opportunities for collaboration. FRCC students train to be technicians. CSU undergraduate and graduate students can use it for research purposes. CSU also is developing a visual interface for the power plant so students will see temperatures, pressures, and flow rates on a computer screen. It’s more realistic to the real world of power plant operations.

Ken says the program is integrating two courses into a 5-credit course to take better advantage of the power plant. The courses are Basic Plant Operations and Instrumentation and Control.

“We want to make working with the power plant a realistic exercise and operate it in a realistic way,” Ken says. “That takes a bigger block of time.”

And a big block of money. FRCC received a $380,000 Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant through the Colorado Online Energy Training Consortium to purchase equipment for the power plant and solar array laboratories.

Graduates finding good jobs

Ken says there is a lot of interest from industry in hiring graduates. “I get calls on a regular basis,” he says. “I tell them we have a new crop every May. Our graduates are finding good jobs locally.”

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