New facility will offer practical experience with next-generation automation, wireless and industrial internet of things technologies, preparing workforce of the future
Future classes of undergraduate engineering students studying at Texas A&M University, one of the largest and most prestigious engineering schools in the United States, will have access to some of the most innovative advanced automation technologies in use at industrial facilities around the world as a result of a $1.5 million donation by global technology and engineering company Emerson.
Emerson and Texas A&M recently announced the establishment of the Emerson Advanced Automation Laboratory to be funded with the company’s donation. The laboratory will provide Texas A&M engineering students a modern, high-tech, active learning environment, simulating real-world plant operations found in manufacturing facilities for the oil and gas, refining, life sciences, food and beverage, and other industries. The laboratory will be an integral part of the university’s new Zachry Engineering Education Complex, a 525,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility scheduled to open this fall.
“Emerson is partnering with Texas A&M not only because it’s one of the leading engineering schools in the country and has a great research component, but also because we are impressed with its efforts to enroll and graduate higher numbers of underrepresented groups in engineering, especially women,” said Mike Train, executive president of Emerson Automation Solutions. “This investment builds on Emerson’s commitment to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education, and training aspiring engineers and manufacturing workers to join the ‘digital workforce’ that is in demand around the world.”
In addition to the new advanced automation laboratory, Emerson will provide the process control equipment for a fully functional distillation column to facilitate hands-on teaching. Next door to the distillation column, students and faculty can meet to study and problem solve in the new Emerson Collaboration Room. Emerson will also work with the College of Engineering to integrate and expand its industrial wireless technologies throughout the Zachry Engineering Education Complex. Emerson’s collaboration with Texas A&M extends beyond donations to include annual participation in the Texas A&M Instrumentation Symposium as well as participating in technical exchange sessions on campus that examine solutions to today’s engineering challenges.
“We are grateful to Emerson for its support of this facility and providing our students with next-generation automation and wireless industrial technology to prepare Aggie engineers for the future,” said Dr. M. Katherine Banks, vice chancellor and dean of engineering.
The Emerson Advanced Automation Laboratory is expected to serve 1,400 engineering students each year. Throughout the next eight years, Texas A&M projects its engineering enrollment to increase from 19,000 students to 25,000 students as part of the College of Engineering’s 25 by 25 initiative. In addition to growth through retention, a key focus of the initiative is to provide increased inclusion of underrepresented groups in STEM education, and this past fall, Texas A&M boasted the largest entering class of female engineering students in the nation.
This ongoing Texas A&M program joins more than 350 institutions worldwide, from two-year technical community colleges to four-year university programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, with which Emerson works to support STEM education.
The Emerson Advanced Automation Laboratory will include the company’s DeltaV™ control system hardware and software, Fisher™ control valves, Rosemount™ measurement devices, Appleton™ field components, Micro Motion™ Coriolis meters and integrated simulation software. The lab will also feature maintenance training simulator equipment that will be fabricated by students studying at Ranken Technical College in St. Louis, Missouri, which has a manufacturing education and training partnership with Emerson.