Workforce Spotlight

Reading Area Community College is Preparing the Next Generation Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Now

September 02, 2020

A frontrunner in Industry 4.0 training, the Schmidt Training and Technology Center, a dedicated facility at Reading Area Community College for advanced manufacturing technology in Reading, PA, is ready to position operators and technicians to be solely efficient and effective - no outsourcing.


Surrounded by state-of-the-art, industry-standard components, and a range of component types, trainees will be using hands-on skills to perform on the same equipment found in industrial and manufacturing floors today. The course content is always customized. Courses are built for 1:1 interaction. That means no long, boring curriculum; no “this takes years to complete”; and finally, no “we’ve already had that training” dissatisfaction. It is a high engagement program. STTC Executive Director Bonnie Spayd knows what skills and training programs are needed. She has designed pertinent curriculum and upskilled employees in the areas of robotics, technical maintenance, information technology and precision machining. “Everything we do in the center is applied, so you’re going to learn theory on mechanics or robots. Then we’re going to teach you the applied piece,” stated Spayd. “Everyone who works at Schmidt has actually worked in the field of manufacturing. They not only talk the talk, they walk the walk,” Spayd included.


Since instruction is mostly hands-on, it drives those theories home. Workers will not be limited to one piece of equipment. There has been a lot of investment into the facilities at Schmidt. Travis Palmer, an electrical instructor at Schmidt, said that when people first arrive at Schmidt, “They are amazed at the equipment. They see equipment they’re familiar with being used in the field.” There are five separate labs in the building: mechanical, electrical, controls, robotics and precision machining. These labs offer opportunities to apply the theories. Palmer teaches everything from the fundamentals of electricity and how it is used, all the way to variable frequency drives, motor control, wiring and motor types. Want to know how a DC motor is constructed and wired? He is your man. Want to know how an AC motor is constructed and wired? He’s still your man. Most importantly, he teaches motor control troubleshooting so that a trained worker can go to the equipment, mechanically diagnose it, electrically know how to test it, and finally, know how to fix it.


Schmidt has a growing selection of courses covering everything from soup to nuts. The mechanical lab offers hands-on training with drives, hydraulics, pneumatics, pumps, piping and rigging. Move to the electrical lab and workers can learn about AC/DC, motors, sensors and power distribution. The PLC networking lab features Allen Bradley, process control and communication. In the Smart Automation, Mechatronics and Robotics lab, programming, process control, simulation and communication can be learned, with every lab offering extensive trouble-shooting.


The center is also offering AMIST Level 1, 2, 3 and 4 certification courses that provide the skills necessary for industrial maintenance in manufacturing. Advanced Manufacturing Integrated Systems Technology-Mechatronics AMIST 1 topics include: Basic Hydraulics & TS; Basic Pneumatics; Mechanical Drives 1&2; Electrical Control Circuits; Motor Control; Electro-Fluid Power Electronic Sensors; Residential/Commercial/Industrial Wiring; Power Distribution & Basic AB slc500 PLC Troubleshooting. AMIST Level 2 topics include: Mechanical Drives 3&4; Conveyors; Vibration Analysis; Laser Alignment; Central Lubrication; Int./Adv. Pneumatics; Pneumatic TS; Basic Electrical Machines System; Adv. Electric Motor Controls; AC & DC Electronic Drives; PLC Analog; Data Highway & Panelview. AMIST Level 3 topics include: Process & Thermal Process Controls & Instrumentation; PLC AB Troubleshooting ControlLogix; Analog; PanelView Plus Learning System; Devicenet ControlNet; EtherNet; Automated material handling w/robot interface & Motion Control. AMIST Level 4 topics include: Print Reading; Manufacturing Fundamentals; Project Management; Computer Integrated Manufacturing and Mechatronics Application Project.


Companies that have utilized Schmidt’s training facility have a lot to say. Pat Saylor, maintenance supervisor at the Hershey Company, said “It’s always been a pleasure to work with any of the [STTC] staff. We have always worked together and have been provided with what we need to develop our plant needs." Saylor says that his workers gave "all positive feedback” and “learned a lot of new skills and techniques for manufacturing maintenance that they may not have had the opportunity to have done.” Saylor cited the ability to start classes as he hires instead of having to wait on a fixed schedule as being one of his preferred distinguishing characteristics about Schmidt.


Mike Gipe, maintenance training coordinator for the Hershey Company, said, “So far everyone attending is very pleased with the training and grateful to have the opportunity to go there. It is a nice facility that is well laid-out with equipment conducive to training and learning. Everyone that I met on the staff has been very nice and ready to help our students and us [the company].”


Industry 4.0 has made a lot of promises. One thing that’s for sure is that it is changing the way workers do their jobs. Give them the skills to thrive in the 4.0 Industrial Revolution so that they can build, program, develop and apply them, so that we can all grow. They need to be on the red carpet that Schmidt has rolled out.  Learn more by watching this video-


If you are interested in RACC helping you with your Advanced Manufacturing workforce, please contact Judy Vecchio at