Last year, Front Range Community College announced its plan to open a new Center for Integrated Manufacturing in Longmont, which will expand training options for Colorado’s booming manufacturing industry.
The center will house four FRCC programs, including the brand-new Automation and Engineering Technology program. But what, exactly, is this area of study—and what do people who work in this field actually do?
Two Pathways at FRCC
FRCC now offers two hands-on programs for people interested in this field of study:
- A two-year A.S degree in Automation & Engineering Technology
- Three progressive shorter-term certificates:
So whether you’re seeking to design, install, program, and maintain industrial machinery and automated industrial control systems—or want to gain new or additional skills in industrial maintenance or industrial automation and robotics—FRCC has a program for you.
What Are the Jobs Like?
With the A.A.S degree, you could become a technician for a manufacturing company that uses automated machinery. Jobs vary somewhat depending on the industry you work in. For example, you might work with plastics, packaging, or pharmaceutical equipment. Regardless of what your company makes, your job could involve customizing manufacturing equipment for automation.
Machines can be automated in many different ways. Robotic arms can load or unload parts. A conveyor belt can move pieces around a factory. Some facilities might have an automated system for dispensing a certain amount of a liquid needed in the production process.
As a technician, you could be involved in maintaining that equipment, and you might also be charged with integrating new equipment as the company grows (to be able to produce more, faster). It might be your job to troubleshoot both the production machines and their specific systems (electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, etc.)
In certain industries, you might maintain robotic hardware and programming too. In addition, you’ll support your company’s lean manufacturing programs. At many Colorado companies, an associate degree is preferred. Entry level salaries start around $45,000 per year, and experienced techs can make up to almost $80,000 annually.
Job titles vary, of course, but might include:
- Production maintenance technician
- Electro-mechanical technician
- Calibration technician
- Robotics engineering technician
- Automation technician
- Manufacturing automation engineer
What Can I Do with an Automation & Engineering Technology Certificate?
FRCC’s three certificates are “stackable,” which means you could earn just one—or all three in succession. These certificates will set you apart when applying for entry-level positions like production operator or assembler, or even technician roles in which an associate degree isn’t required or preferred.
The bottom line: Holding one or more of these certificates solidifies your knowledge base in industrial maintenance and industrial automation and robotics. Having this education on your résumé will help you stand apart from applicants with no experience or foundational understanding of how advanced manufacturing works.
As you can tell, there’s a lot you can do with an Automation & Engineering Technology degree or certificate—especially in Colorado, where demand is high. In fact, there are almost 6,000 manufacturers that operate in our state, yet there is a shortage of trained manufacturing workers.