M-WERC leveraging Rockwell sponsored lab in Madison
Exciting things are happening in the M-WERC Madison office.
Here’s a little background for those of you who may not know much about the Rockwell Industrial Connected Enterprise (ICE) Lab. Last fall we received seven racks of programmable logic controllers (PLCs) along with six computer and desk stations from Rockwell, and got most of set up, connected and running.
Each rack is an automation simulator and emulator, and has many options for I/O control and programming. The ultimate goal of the lab is to serve as a fully functional and flexible educational and research space for COE faculty and students. We’ve had the lab set up and somewhat functional for a few months. A couple weeks ago when we hosted the first class we really started to leverage the capability of the lab.
In the spring, starting around late Feb/March, M-WERC staff started working with UW Madison Mechanical Engineering Professor Erick Oberstar who was one of a few professors that expressed initial interest in utilizing the lab.
He teaches a 400 level PLC course (ME447 Computer Control of Machines and Processes) for engineering undergraduates, and wanted to hold two sessions of his normally scheduled class in the Rockwell Lab and have the students complete simple labs. He had two labs written that he normally teaches on smaller, a little less refined bench level equipment, and asked if we could convert them to work on our automation racks.
We’re pleased to announce our success translating the old lab process to the Rockwell programming platforms, connecting the rack components, and writing up two whole new lab procedures to walk the students through how the Rockwell equipment works, and how to program on it successfully.
On April 30th and May 2nd we hosted Erick’s class (both sessions were the same, hosting half of the class at a time) for two hours to complete two simple labs, which all the students were able to complete really well and I think got a lot out of it. Something Erick liked was how neatly and professionally the racks are wired, and told the students that was really valuable since you will almost never see that kind of large yet neat schematics in academia.