College of Engineering receives $131,533 equipment donation from Rockwell Automation

Beginning in October, College of Engineering students will have access to 15 new workstations through their coursework.
Engineering building.

Students in the College of Engineering will work with new workstation equipment valued at $131,533 donated by Rockwell Automation beginning in October.

The donation allows for the construction of 15 modern industrial automation workstations. The electrical engineering and computer science department has paid for the equipment and installation, totaling approximately $8,000, according to Kannappan Palaniappan, interim chair of the electrical engineering and computer science departments.

The systems are expected to be up and running for student use at the beginning of October.

2001 MU graduate Luke Manier has been the industry sales manager at Rockwell Automation for five years. During the planning phases of this project, Manier met with department chairs and professors in the College of Engineering to understand the needs of the school. Manier said this equipment is necessary because it provides a better education than simply reading from a textbook.

“[Students] will be trained on the latest technology,” Manier said. “They will be exposed to real-world situations and applications. It will give them another opportunity to collaborate with others and work as a team to solve problems.”

Palaniappan has worked with the College of Engineering Office of Advancement, the EECS faculty, and Rockwell Automation through Manier to add these assets to classrooms.

Previously, the college had three workstations, which Palaniappan said caused issues in the educational process. He said the increase in higher quality workstations will create a more effective environment for the students and faculty that can be used across multiple courses and link together concepts across the curriculum.

“We needed to run many labs because you could only have four students at a time,” Palaniappan said. “It was more work for the instructor; it was not convenient for the students. This allowed us to solve a lot of problems. It’s more efficient for us.”

Professor Emeritus Robert McLaren is teaching the electrical engineering class, Programmable Logic Controllers, that will predominantly work with these stations. McLaren said the systems will help students leave the college with the advantage of understanding state-of-the-art equipment.

The programmable logic controllers allow students to learn how to configure and program systems and how to control multiple processes. This new equipment is top of the line high end systems used by professional engineers to build large scale smart manufacturing, industrial processing and robotics applications.

“The students are working with the latest and greatest,” McLaren said. “When they leave, they'll be trained on current equipment.”

Senior Marshall Lindsay is working toward a degree in electrical and computer engineering and is currently in McLaren’s PLC class. Lindsay said he is interested in working with the new equipment because it may give him an edge when entering the workforce.

“Technology advances at such a quick pace that education sometimes struggles to follow it,” Lindsay said. “To be able to have the newest technology at the educational level really puts education at the same pace of technology advancements. Instead of being lagging behind once we leave the classroom, we’re already on par with technology as we’re learning it.”

Palaniappan said this donation would not have been possible without the effort of the Advancement team, multiple faculty members and the kindness of previous students.

“This is really the generosity of Rockwell Automation and the perseverance and enthusiasm of one of our dedicated alums,” Palaniappan said.

Edited by Olivia Garrett |

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