LCCC is on the cutting edge of Industry 4.0

Working on the new SmartCIM machine.The term “industrial revolution” often evokes images of the rapid industrialization that occurred in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, marked by profound transformations in everyday life. Yet, for Dave Curry, the industrial revolution is an ongoing phenomenon, unfolding in what is commonly referred to as “Industrial Revolution 4.0.”

This contemporary industrial revolution diverges significantly from its predecessors for Curry. Gone are the days of steam-powered engines and factories spewing smoke. Instead, the focus has shifted toward the integration of robotics and advanced technologies. According to Curry, these innovations promise to reshape the world in ways as significant and unforeseen as the transitions from steam to electricity and the adoption of programmable logic controllers once did.

Curry, serving as the director of the Advanced Manufacturing and Material Center (AMMC) at Laramie County Community College, highlights that after a year in operation, the AMMC is at the forefront of preparing students for this new wave of technological advancement. With the transformative potential of these industrial and technological shifts in his mind, LCCC is filling a critical role in education in navigating the challenges and opportunities they present.

“We’re hoping to give students a chance to harness the skills they can and move on to being a skilled worker in a competitive market,” Curry said.

The AMMC is serving as a facility to train new workers to meet the needs of the region’s manufacturing industries. It will offer a location for the current workforce to receive training, a need not previously met in the region. Ideally situated for distribution at the intersection of interstates 25 and 80 and just north of the Colorado Front Range, Laramie County has long been an area of interest for business owners. However, many have passed on building a business in Laramie County because it could not meet their workforce needs. The AMMC is becoming a significant factor in making it possible for more enterprises to choose Laramie County. 

The AMMC is housed in a renovated 14,200 square feet space on campus. The college is offering both credit and non-credit programming leading to skill development, industry certifications and college credentials. A ZSpace is available for training in virtual and augmented reality.  Additionally, the center offers a Concept Forge, or fabrication lab, to enable new entrepreneurs the ability to prototype their product ideas. The Concept Forge includes 3D printers, sewing machines, laser cutters, Glowforge, a sublimation printer, soldering stations, cutting tools and more. Funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, an approved project in the 6th penny election and the Wyoming Innovation Partnership made the entrepreneurial spaces possible. 

Several areas of programming have begun since the AMMC’s grand opening April 14.

To date, more than 30 students have completed the nine-week CNC Precision Machining Bootcamp, first launching on May 22. The Concept Forge has been used to produce several banner projects, including a trailer wrap for the STEM Mobile Lab. Community programming is underway, with expert demonstrations of different technologies available in the space showing locals how they can turn their ideas into realities. 

“We haven’t found something we can’t do yet,” Curry said. “We’re learning things every day while students and community members ask for assistance on new projects.” 

Curry is watching developments in industry and technology that are going to best serve the students and the college’s mission. In the latest development, Wyoming Innovation Partnership Phase II funds were used to purchase the SmartCIM. 

The SmartCIM 4.0 program is an educational initiative tailored for CTE and engineering students, aimed at equipping them with knowledge and practical skills in industrial automation and smart factory applications. This prepares them for the future workforce in advanced manufacturing jobs.

Employing a holistic systems-based methodology, SmartCIM 4.0 not only imparts specific industrial skills but also covers crucial areas like systems integration, networking, and communication, alongside advanced subjects critical for securing employment in today’s industrial sector. Intelitek's SmartCIM 4.0 uniquely combines a comprehensive curriculum with practical labs and activities, utilizing state-of-the-art technology prevalent in Industry 4.0 settings. The program is designed to be adaptable, modular, and thorough, aligning perfectly with industry-standard certification programs in advanced manufacturing, mechatronics, and production.

The introduction of the SmartCIM, Curry said, could be a turning point for the AMMC and its programming.

“The addition of the SmartCIM allows us to add a robotic training element to our programs that is the first of its kind in southeastern Wyoming,” he said. “This training will allow us to introduce our students, industry and the community to Industry 4.0.”    

Even with how far LCCC has come with the AMMC, the work is never done for Curry. There are always developments to chase and opportunities waiting to be found. If one goal is met, there are new ones that continue the work. 

“That’s why I love what I do,” he said. “You never know what the next phone call or email has in store.” 

Visit lccc.wy.edu/manufacturing to find out the latest on the AMMC. The next CNC Precision Machining Bootcamp at LCCC runs from May 20-July 18. Go to the website or call 307.432.1687 for more information.