Executives from Gestamp in South Charleston and Toyota Manufacturing in Buffalo vouched for the need to have certified robotics technicians in the region.
Toyota engineering manager Curtis Martin said the dozens of robots used at the Buffalo plant are critical to the safety, efficiency and flexibility of Toyota's manufacturing process.
"Our team members not only need to maintain these robots, but they need to have the skills to make changes to them as part of our continuing improvement processes," Martin said.
Gestamp engineering manager Mike Anderson said the South Charleston stamping plant currently has 26 robots in operation, and the company is in the process of purchasing eight more.
He said having well-educated workers that can reprogram and retool those robots are essential for the company's operations.
"Our maintenance technicians have basically traded in their toolboxes for laptops," Anderson said.
Aiello said FANUC views the program as a three-legged tool that ties together education, manufacturers and equipment suppliers together to train workers on the latest technologies.
He said certified robotics engineers could earn a starting salary the mid-$50,000 a year range. The program at RCBI will not only allow current students to become certified on the equipment, but allow employers to send their workers in for continuing education and training.
He said the increased education would help strengthen the state's manufacturing economy for years to come.
"Manufacturing in this country is not dead," Aiello said. "It's evolving and it's really on a great path ahead."
Contact writer Jared Hunt at busin...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.
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