2016 produced several examples of automation supplier stepping up to provide or critically assist in the automation education of the current and future manufacturing workforce in the United States. 2017 is already off to a good start along those same lines with Siemens’ announcement of L.E.A.P. (Lifelong Educational Advantage Program).
As part of Siemens Cooperates with Education (SCE), L.E.A.P. is aimed at giving high school and technical school graduates machine tool knowledge—ranging from basic to advanced—to help in future careers as computer numerical control (CNC) machinists.
“Currently, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) jobs are growing at 1.7 times the rate of non-STEM jobs,” said Brian Hamilton, CNC education manager, Siemens Industry Inc. “Employers need graduates who are more than basic machine operators for basic parts cutting.”
Through L.E.A.P., students and educators receive education and training on:
- numerical control;
- HMI (human machine interface) setup and simulation of machine controls;
- hardware simulators; and
- machine tool partners.
According to Siemens, L.E.A.P. starts with Sinutrain, Siemens’ PC-based, control-identical training system. This software turns a PC screen into a representation of the Sinumerik Operate graphical user interface. The numeric kernel that drives Sinutrain also powers Siemens Sinumerik 828D and 840D sl controls. This means that, for students to receive full CNC training, there is no need for the educational institution to invest in a CNC machine. All the courses can be taught on a PC.
Two machine tool disciplines—milling and turning—are taught in L.E.A.P. Each course includes both classroom and hands-on training models. Upon successful completion of each level, students receive Siemens L.E.A.P. certifications documenting the skill sets learned.
Siemens points out that its Sinumerik CNC platform features a “universal interface for rapid progression across control packages,” meaning that one interface can be used to teach students both basic and advanced CNC skills. In other words, as students learn the program and how to operate the Sinumerik 828D job shop control, they also become comfortable using the higher-level Sinumerik 840D sl CNC.
To determine which L.E.A.P. program best fits a participating school’s needs, Siemens performs a site assessment after the educational institution is enrolled in the SCE program. Assistance with the installation of the Sinutrain software package, as well as scheduling for instructor training and certification, are also offered.