Texas Border Business
MCALLEN, TEXAS– South Texas College continues to meet the increasing demand of manufacturers seeking knowledge and skills to support production.
A brand-new expansion at STC is set to increase specialized training opportunities to technology-dependent sectors of the manufacturing industry through the addition of Fuji Automatic Numerical Control (FANUC) robots.
FANUC, along with the requisite specialized instructor training in advanced programming, enables STC’s Advanced Robotics Industrial Automation Program at the college’s Institute for Advanced Manufacturing (IAM) to become the only fully integrated Industry 4.0 lab in the state of Texas, as well as certified FANUC Training and Testing Center.
Dr. Carlos Margo, South Texas College’s Associate Dean of Industry Training and Economic Development, acknowledges that IAM’s existing business partners in the Rio Grande Valley, and prospective businesses considering relocating to the region, utilize FANUC solutions in their facilities.
FANUC is a leading supplier of robots, computer control systems, and factory automation, with products used by manufacturers in industries worldwide.
“This is not only for today’s workforce, it’s for the workforce of the future,” Margo said. “This is something that will help us recruit additional employers to this region. This is something that is truly unique because not only do we have our existing robotics and automation certifications
through Festo and others, now we have the opportunity to provide opportunities through FANUC, and this is just the beginning.”
McAllen’s Economic Development Corporation cites a pre-COVID 2019 survey by the SBA Senior Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) which found that 98.6 percent of American manufacturing companies are small businesses, and 75.3 percent of those businesses have fewer than 20 employees, but generate 11.6 percent of the U.S. economic output and employ 8.5 percent of the U.S. workforce.
More than 89 percent of these businesses however report difficulty filling all of the job openings available. Sixty percent of these unfilled jobs were due to a lack of technical skills.
In Sept. 2020, there were 456,000 manufacturing job openings in the United States, many of which remain unfilled. By 2025, there are forecasted to be 2.5 million manufacturing jobs that can’t be filled, and that puts STC in a unique position for industry, according to MEDC president Keith Patridge.
“As we continue to see a shift in the type of technical skills that are being required in advanced technology, this program really is right on with where we need to go,” Patridge said.
“Since its founding, STC has really been, in my opinion, a lifesaver for our efforts to attract industry to this area,” Patridge said. “(Former STC President) Dr. Reed and her team have always been visionaries, always looking out into the future, looking at what our community needs both today and what we will need five or 10 years into the future.”
Years in the making, IAM held an official recognition ceremony for the college’s FANUC designation as a testing site and training center on Dec. 7.
It was the culmination of a project that begin in 2016 when IAM began looking at robots from FANUC in order to grow automation and robotics. In 2017, IAM began the certification process in order to become a testing site, which STC celebrated last month.
Previously, the closest certified FANUC training facility for South Texas was located in Houston.
IAM is now the first in South Texas to receive certification as a FANUC Robot Training Center, and the first training center in Texas to offer Collaborative Robot training using the FANUC CRX-10iA Collaborative Robot.
“I can assure you that as we move forward into a world that brings global experience and global presence for the United States, South Texas College will be a leader in robotics and automation,” said Rose Benavidez, Chair of STC’s Board of Trustees. “We have been fortunate to have a board at South Texas College that is visionary, and that has taken a very distinct interest in our programming to ensure that our workforce training parallels the recruitment and industry growth that our region has seen in the past, and that we will be seeing in the future.”
Often referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Industry 4.0, is transforming the manufacturing industry by delivering the digitalization of systems to enable smarter, safer, and increasingly efficient methods throughout the manufacturing process.
This globally recognized standard allows manufacturers to improve the network synchronization of smart machines, robotics, and other critical data collection and communication tools throughout their facilities.
The expansion and enhancement of IAM’s lab will provide increased specialized training opportunities as manufacturers strive to provide their workforce with the knowledge and skills to support efficient and quality production.
“We look at these relationships with schools as a partnership. This partnership has one ultimate goal, to prepare the next generation workforce that is needed in industry,” said Paul Aiello, Director of Certifications, Sales, and Operations at FANUC.
“We look forward to working with the school (college) and partnering in this initiative for South Texas, and growing the skills and development for the area, and really for all of the region to help manufacturing positions,” Aiello said. “A skilled workforce is the competitive differentiator in a global economy FANUC has a goal to address emerging high demand occupations and increase pipeline and diversity.”