A $2.2M expansion of the robotics lab at St. Clair College will coincide with adding an extra year of study for Electromechanical Engineering Technology - Robotics students in the Fall semester of 2022.
Lido Zuccato, Dean of School of Engineering, Apprenticeship & Skilled Trades at St. Clair since 2017, said that after multiple years of planning, the College had expanded its robotics lab, increasing its square footage by over 30 percent.
"This expansion increases the number of students we can teach, and it also increases what we can teach them," Zuccato said. "We weren't teaching welding before, but now that we've made this investment, we can teach it. That's something that we didn't have before, and it's a humungous need in the industry right now."
Zuccato said the expansion began in 2021 when the College added four new Vision Robots - designed to explore and understand work autonomously in complex environments - to give the St. Clair robotics lab a total of 12. The College also added six ABB robot stations to the lab to increase their capacity to 12 while installing 12 new welding cells and revamping the existing welding cells as part of the multi-million-dollar expansion.
Zuccato said the increased interest in the robotics program and the direction of industry towards vehicle electrification had fueled the need to expand the robotics lab at St. Clair. Zuccato believes this $2.2M expansion will set St. Clair's robotics program on a level unmatched by other Colleges in Ontario.
"The interest in the program and the excitement of where this industry is heading with automation, automobility, electrification - has contributed to this expansion. Enrollment is strong, the need is there, and industry is in demand, so we're trying to supply education to support the industry," Zuccato said. "From a robotics standpoint, I think we will have the best program in Ontario. I don't think there is any other facility that is going to have what we have. Other Colleges have robotics, but when you come through the Ford Centre for Excellent in Manufacturing, you're in an industrial environment. It replicates what's out in the industry. I think it will attract a lot of students."
With the addition of the third year of study in the Electromechanical Engineering Technology - Robotics program at St. Clair, students will now be able to earn an Advanced Diploma from the College, which Zuccato believes will give them an advantage over other candidates when securing a job.
"It will give our students a leg up on the competition. They are learning another full discipline - they're learning how to weld. They're going to be coming out of school with that knowledge. They will know the basics, understand where to start, and be miles ahead of anybody else," Zuccato said. "This is something we have been dreaming of for a long time. For as long as I've been here, we've been talking about expanding the lab, implementing the third year, and implementing the welding - it's just now coming to fruition. It's unbelievable; investing this much money into a single program is a huge project. But it is a program of strength for the College."
Click for more information about St. Clair's three-year Electromechanical Engineering Technology - Robotics Advanced Diploma program.