Industrial Tech at BC

Last Tuesday, March 5th, Liz Rozell, Dean of STEM, Cindy Collier, Dean of Allied Health, and I had the good fortune of spending time with Sean Caras, Department Chair of Engineering and Industrial Technology, and Manny Fernandez, faculty in Industrial Technology, as they gave me a tour of the Industrial Technology facilities. I learned a lot about modern day machining and the interrelated nature of the different disciplines, and came to appreciate that there are some fundamentals that cross all disciplines whether we are talking about automotive technology, agriculture mechanics, aviation, etc.  Manufacturing as we once knew it is obsolete, replaced by very high level automation technologies.

The 18th century saw the evolution from manmade to machine made in what we refer to as the industrial revolution. This resulted in the emergence of a different kind of skilled workforce, technicians who knew how to run production facilities.  Now, in the 21st century, with the integration of computers, digital control technology and machine tools, the skill set needed by technicians has vastly shifted, as entire manufacturing plans can be controlled by engineers at a keyboard.

Machining Laboratory. March 5, 2013.Manny Fernandez demonstrating the workings of a manufacturing plant.

Machining Laboratory. March 5, 2013.
Manny Fernandez demonstrating the workings of a manufacturing plant.

We toured a simulation of such a manufacturing plant in the lab, and were introduced to the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC), a ubiquitous piece of digital equipment used to control machine operations.  Our students learn how to assemble such PLCs and program to implement various manufacturing processes.

We were also introduced to the electronics lab where students learn the fundamentals of electricity and electronics – we saw electric circuit boards and the intricate work that goes into their construction, and we saw how these devices are used, e.g. creating thermal sensors that detect anomalies outside an appropriate range and then triggers a response to reject a certain product or “cut off” the flow.

Electronic Circuits. March 5, 2013.

Electronic Circuits. March 5, 2013.

We ended our tour in the engineering lab where we were introduced by Liz to a machine that manufactures 3D objects, made from a computerized graphic.  How about using this equipment to have the BC Centennial logo made into key chains for all the 717 employees?  This key chain will symbolize 100 years of tradition in excellence manufactured with a state-of-the art technology .

The amazing work that our deans and faculty  are doing at Bakersfield Colleges supports the direction that Obama articulated in his State of the Union address.  You can find my reflections on Obama’s speech at http://tinyurl.com/bd2yh8j.

Besides gaining an understanding of current manufacturing and machining processes I was struck by the complete dedication of our faculty to keeping the curriculum current, the time spent on customizing and building the equipment for the laboratories, and the absolute pride in having a program that is of the highest quality.  Both Liz and Cindy were absolutely immersed with the Sean and Manny in the discussions of learning and the absolute importance of Career Technical Education in our society.  Here is an excerpt from an email that Cindy sent me on this topic:

“…. I believe we should showcase what CTE folks do….. we need to recognize the work that CTE faculty do and the hours of prep that goes into our classes ….. CTE programs support our community, improve workforce, improve economy, meet industry needs by staying current …..”

So let’s toast the wonderful work our CTE colleagues (faculty, staff, administrators) do each day to create great learning environments for students.  And I say this with great Renegade pride.

Electronics Lab. March 5 2013Cindy Collier, Liz Rozell, Sean Caras, Manny Fernandez

Electronics Lab. March 5 2013
Cindy Collier, Liz Rozell, Sean Caras, Manny Fernandez

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2 thoughts on “Industrial Tech at BC

  1. Michael Spickler March 12, 2013 at 3:11 am Reply

    Dr. Christian you tech school teaching a higher level of skills sounds great. I work in the building industry locally. The company I work for builds homes, the subcontractors that we use need employees with the basic skills learned in woodworking class. I have heard that some of the classes may be cut next year. Basic skills in use of tools, reading plans and how things work would help your students find a job. We need a skilled workforce to build homes in Bakersfield. The housing industry supplies thousands of jobs locally. Please do not lose this very important segment of education for our future employees.

  2. Sean Caras April 1, 2013 at 6:01 am Reply

    Sonya, thank you so much for the kind words and all those cool pictures regarding our Electronics program! It’s interesting the paths our program has followed in the 11 years I’ve been at Bakersfield College. I went through this very program at BC right after I graduated from high school. Within three semesters, I left my minimum wage job and spent the rest of my time as a college student working as an Electronics Technician for at least twice what my friends were earning. That industry experience (and my BC training) opened the doors for every job I’ve had as an adult – particularly as a high school teacher before coming to BC. It’s interesting that when I considered taking the position I have now (and leaving a tenured teaching position with significant seniority and a higher pay), this program was not doing well enrollment-wise. I wondered if the program could weather the storm. Yet, in the time I’ve been here, it has been the strong backing of industry and also of local professional organizations (specifically the International Society for Automation – ISA) that have helped us reach the level where we are. As you mentioned, STEM careers are vital for our economic growth and stability. It’s not difficult to thrive in an environment – like we enjoy locally – that takes great pride in our educational system and encourages us to remain current and relevant.

    In fact, many of those who are full-time and adjunct faculty in our Industrial Technology area are former BC students. There is that long heritage of the programs we offer, and the vision of where we all need to be to meet future demands. Our Electronics program is one of the oldest vocational programs at BC (I think it goes back to before 1920), but like all our programs, what we do now is drastically different than it was back then.

    David Koeth found pictures from Life Magazine of the BC campus in 1958. Here’s David’s instructions for finding them:

    “If you do a Google search, and put “bakersfield junior college source:life” (without the quotes) in the search field, then click on IMAGES, you will find a group of photos of the Bakersfield College campus from 1958.”

    There are several pictures of our Electronics students working on electrical panels, supervised by their professor, Lanning Flint. Those students would be absolutely amazed by what the labs look like now (45 years later). But, those panels that were used in wiring motor control and industrial electrical circuity resemble the panels students use today. Some technology remains throughout time. The basic (foundation) knowledge has gone from vacuum tubes, to transistors, to integrated circuits, to multiple function microcontrollers. But the great thing has been the College’s support of the program from the days of radio (no TV when the program was started) through the internet age.

    Thanks again for taking the time to visit us and talk with us! It is very encouraging to us when administrators come out and see what we do!

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