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Training in mechatronics--you can make it happen

Drop what you’re doing and write a letter now if you have any interest in seeing training and education in mechatronics strengthened.

Here’s the backstory.

Dr Ken Ryan, director of the Center for Automation and Motion Control at Alexandria Technical College in Alexandria, MN, is attempting to establish a center for packaging excellence. The goal: To foster training and education in the field of mechatronics as it relates to packaging machinery. The beneficiaries, you ask? Both packaging machinery OEMs and the packaged goods companies who are their customers. Ryan, who also chairs the OMAC Packaging Workgroup’s PackLearn team, explains the need for such a center.

“Much of what’s happening in machinery today is all about servos and information technology,” says Ryan. “To remain competitive on a global scale, packaging machinery OEMs in this country and the packaged goods manufacturers who are their customers will have to implement these technologies. For this to happen, the next generation of packaging machinery technicians must be properly trained and educated. The center for excellence will be a focal point for their training and education.”

Ryan would like the center for packaging excellence to be more web-based than physically located in any particular facility. The curriculum developed at the center will be disseminated nationally. But the center itself will be brokered by the Center for Automation and Machine Control at Alexandria Technical College.

And how will this project be funded?

“We are submitting a grant proposal to the National Science Foundation for the planning phase of the center,” says Ryan. “We calculate that it will require between $2.3 and $2.8 million to develop and disseminate the curriculum needed. NSF supports the goal of a center of excellence, but they are asking for more evidence of industry support. So what we need are letters from packaging machinery OEMs, packaged goods companies, and integrators.”

Those interested in writing such letters, like you for example, should contact Ryan at

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