Teaching the Teachers


A few weeks ago I had the privilege of teaching a Siemens S7 advanced class for Automation Training to some of the professors in my old home town of Knoxville. They were from several of the area colleges and vo-tech schools and were adding the Siemens Step 7 platform to their curricula, which already included Allen-Bradley and several other subjects.

One of the cool things about teaching people who already well versed on one type of PLC is that you can draw comparisons to instructions and other features from platforms they are familiar with. It is also nice to be able to go beyond the standard material and experiment a bit.

The other fun thing about this trip was checking out all of the new lab equipment. When I was in college, the available tools were much more limited and we spent most of our time studying theory. Now, thanks to generous funding by the state and various sponsors, students have access to lots of nice industrial equipment.

Fanuc Robot Station
Fanuc Robot Station

This robot cell is equipped with vision, so students can get a feel for vision-guided robotics.

Motors get a hands on approach also; these stations allow students to get a feel for single and three-phase AC motors as well as DC.

Motor Lab Station
Motor Lab Station

There were at least six or seven of these stations in the lab.

There were a LOT of pneumatic demos. This is something that electrical engineers really don’t get enough of in school.



And some hydraulics….


And some more pneumatics…


And even some extrusion!


Having access to all of this equipment helps prepare young people for the workplace, but I was told that a lot of the students in the vo-tech schools and night classes in the colleges are people being retrained from other fields. There are quite a few military veterans or guys who have been in maintenance for 20+ years that are taking advantage of various state and federally funded programs. This is good to hear about with all of the negativity about the government, at least some of our dollars are going to good use.


I am headed to Japan for a couple of weeks, so there won’t be much new on this site for the rest of the month. If there is something in particular you’d like me to cover, drop me a line. I am still looking forĀ info on different PLC platforms, let me know if you can help!


Electrical Engineer and business owner from the Nashville, Tennessee area. I also play music, Chess and Go.

2 Comments on “Teaching the Teachers

  1. Sick lab!! What university did you say that was? Sounds like they’d turn out some really good entry-level automation/controls/mechanical/electrical engineers

    • Pellissippi State (East, Strawberry Plains) near Knoxville, TN. You would think so, right? Unfortunately I think they go through a lot of teachers/professors, no long term guys, probably because of pay.