10:06 AM

STC celebrates first full cohort of Mechatronics students with FANUC certification


South Texas College is now enabling students seeking a certificate in Mechatronics Technology to become certified in Level 1 FANUC Handling Tool Operations and Programming. Six students recently received training with real-world industrial robots and received an industry-recognized certification after completing the course. Left to right, Joseph Balderas, Julio De Leon, Advanced Manufacturing Technology Department Chair Erika Guerra, Nathan Zaragoza and Carlos Lopez. Students not in attendance included Tyron Jamison and Jesus Gamarra

Six students recently represented the first-ever cohort to complete the Mechatronics Technology one-semester certificate at South Texas College. 

Upon completion of the course and then passing the exam set by the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI), students were then certified as Level 1 Fuji Automatic Numerical Control (FANUC) robot operators awarded through STC’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology (AMT) program. 

STC was designated a testing site by NOCTI in 2020.  That process included having instructors certified to provide the FANUC certificate to students as well as the proper equipment, handling tool operation and programming, instructors passing the robotics exam by NOCTI and finally having their training lesson approved by FANUC.

It was the culmination of a project that begin in 2016 when IAM began looking at robots from FANUC in order to grow automation and robotics. In 2017, IAM began the certification process in order to become a testing site.

Previously, the closest certified FANUC training facility for South Texas was located in Houston.

“This is our first semester that we start with the Mechatronics program,” said Erika Guerra, Advanced Manufacturing Technology program chair. 

This is a more direct way to what you want to do. If you love getting your hands dirty, this is the best place to do it.”  

-Julio De Leon

Guerra is among a handful of instructors at STC to complete the requirements for FANUC Operator Level 1 Certification, and the first to do so with a cohort through Advanced Manufacturing Technology.

“As students going through the class, they are also working with our simulation program that helps them practice and understand what it takes to be able to work with the robot, to do maintenance and eventually take the test at the end of the semester,” Guerra said. “Taking the exam is not a requirement, but I have not had one student who doesn't want to take the test to be certified.”

The Mechatronics four-class certificate course is intended to provide training with real-world industrial robots. Students receive the industry-recognized certification upon course completion.

As part of the testing process, students undergo a three-hour, 150 multiple choice exam which covers everything from maintenance of the robotics, operating procedures, motor attachment and digital input.

“This certificate is nationally recognized (and) now we have opened it up to traditional students who are interested in electronics and robotics,” Guerra said. “They can use this credential to be able to go and work at manufacturing companies or at assembly companies, not just here locally, but anywhere they choose.”

Julio De Leon was among the six students who registered for the Mechatronics program and enrolled in the Robotics Fundamentals course. After graduating from Veterans Memorial High School in Mission, De Leon said he attended the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley but preferred the hands-on portion of engineering at STC rather than the academic focus which was more prevalent at the university.

“I love working with tools. I love being in a machine shop and I love the automation side,” said De Leon who upon completing the Mechatronics certification now looks ahead to his certificate and associate degree in Precision Manufacturing Technology.

“I discovered a passion for servicing, maintaining and programming FANUC robotics, which is an amazing thing they offer here at STC,” he said. “Getting certified is like being on the fast-track without worrying too much about needing those prerequisites like your history or reading courses for example. This is a more direct way to what you want to do. If you love getting your hands dirty, this is the best place to do it.” 

STC Instructors Felix Zamarripa and Ernesto Avila also possess the certification and are currently teaching FANUC Operator Level 1 training to local industry partners through the college’s Institute for Advanced Manufacturing. 

FANUC is a leading supplier of robots, computer control systems and factory automation, with products used by manufacturers in industries worldwide.

STC is a FANUC-authorized Certified Education and Industry 4.0 facility dedicated to providing training for advanced automation applications.

The addition of FANUC robots at STC increases specialized training opportunities to technology-dependent sectors of the manufacturing industry. It is also a boon to existing business partners in the Rio Grande Valley, as well as prospective businesses considering relocating to the region which utilize FANUC in their facilities.

In addition to the college’s Advanced Manufacturing Program, STC offers a variety of certifications for industry professionals through IAM.

Training programs are tailored to meet employer needs, with certifications in everything from automation and robotics, business management, electrical and HVAC, welding, manufacturing, logistics, cold storage, and manufacturing related industries.

For more information about STC’s Advanced Manufacturing Program, please visit https://bt.southtexascollege.edu/manufacturing/

For more information about IAM, please visit https://www.southtexascollege.edu/cpit/iam.html .