Electronics program to get automated
AMHERST – It’s a far cry from the mad scientist’s lair you see in a horror movie.
© Christopher Gooding photo
Instead of organics, Electronic Engineering Technician faculty Keith Dalton is giving students at the Nova Scotia Community College’s Amherst campus a bionic look into the world of technology used by local industries here in Cumberland County.
Mind you, all of it is there: computer screens and microscopes; soldiering irons and vacuums to heave away noxious fumes; monitoring devices and even a board at the front of the class that magically draws up images and writing like the Invisible Man was at the front of the class.
This is the Electronic Engineer Technician program at the Amherst campus of the Nova Scotia Community College, where students delve into the technical voodoo of electronics used by many local industries and instead of the Invisible Man, it’s the ever-present Keith Dalton at the head of the class.
“Our goal is to give them a rough, basic knowledge and teach them basic trouble shooting. Then we move from basics into integrated circuits, then eventually robotics and automation,” Dalton said.
Sounds simple enough, but it’s not.
Students in the first year program learned how to bring computer components together, test their integrity, and review electronic connections so fine digital microscopes are needed to determine if the hairline connections might be severed. Then they learned to solder those connections according to industry standards, which lead to one of the first partnerships between the campus and local industry during the program’s inaugural run.
“LED Roadway Lighting’s Diane Lewis came in for a week and-a-half and did soldering with us,” NSCC’s Business Academic Chair Andrew Moore said. “It was really a fantastic partnership where someone in the industry could come in and say ‘This is exactly what we’re looking for,’ and train students for what they need to know in the industry when they start looking for work.”
Moving into the second year of the program, students will delve into a field used by just about every local industry: program logical controllers [PLC], simple machines that make smart decisions. After that, they will be trained in automation and robotics.
Investing in the program was a significant commitment by NSCC, Moore said, but the result is the most up to date electronics lab around, giving students state of the art tools to learn with, and even drawing some envy from the industries they’re partnering with in the pursuit of giving students the knowledge they need to join the local labour force in a specialized field.
“What’s special about this program is that the local industrial community is engaged. Students won’t have to move away after they graduate,” Moore said. “The program is here to connect us with the industry around us.”
To learn more about the EET program, visit www.nscc.ca.