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Staffing of equipment keeps Watson College technology up to date


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In the last two decades, more and more everyday products are made using automated manufacturing. Control units manage the servo motors, sensors, solenoids and robotics required to perform repetitive tasks efficiently to ensure smooth production.

At Watson College, college students studying industrial and systems engineering learn how to manage the right mix of people, robots, industrial equipment, and data to make the whole process work. Computer simulations are helpful, but when you need hands-on experience, the Advanced Manufacturing Lab in the Engineering Building is the place to go.

The lab includes five training systems from Festo, which feature stripped-down versions of the same mechatronics used in manufacturing. They were purchased through Watson’s equipment supply and installed in the fall of 2020. Each system has a conveyor loader, handling, and stacking to simulate an automated production line, and can be used in combination or as stand-alone stations.

Assistant professors Yingge Zhou and Fuda Ning of the Department of Systems Science and Industrial Engineering use the modular learning systems and accompanying software for their Industrial Automation and Control courses.

“Students write the code and arrange the components on the computer to find a solution and program the mechatronics to move correctly,” Zhou says. “Then they test it in real time on the test fixture, learning how the programmable logic controller works, how the pneumatic components work, how the actuator and sensors work, and how these can achieve real-world manufacturing functions together.”

“I think the Department of SSIE at Watson has one of the first systems and industrial engineering programs in the nation to offer such a hands-on lab as part of its undergraduate curriculum to give students the opportunity to solve automation problems in the real world. ning says.

Financial gifts earmarked for technology upgrades finance the provision of equipment.

“It allows students to conduct research using the latest and most sophisticated laboratory equipment,” says ’87 donor Ken Goldblatt. “This experience prepares them for their careers in the industry.”

A board member of the Binghamton University Foundation, Goldblatt graduated from Binghamton with a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 1987 and earned his MBA in finance from New York University’s Stern School in 1992. Today, he is the CIO and a portfolio manager at S Squared Technology, a hedge fund that invests in small and medium-sized technology companies.

In 2017, he started the Goldblatt Challenge to encourage faculty and staff to become more involved in the success of Watson College through donations. The final year of the four-year initiative had a 44.8% turnout, with Goldblatt contributing matching funds.

“Having state-of-the-art equipment is just one way Binghamton can compete with other universities for the best undergraduate and graduate students, as well as recruit and retain faculty,” he says.

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