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May 08, 2014 09:36 AM EDT

Steel Company Donates $255,000 to MTU to Support Lab

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Steel producer Nucor Corporation has made a gift of $255,000 to Michigan Technological University for the establishment of the Nucor Industrial Control and Automation Laboratory.

The lab located in the Electrical Energy Resources Center is a joint effort of the programs from the Electrical Engineering Technology in the School of Technology and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering.

Industrial control and automation, a system of computer hardware and software, is employed to supervise and manage the operation of industrial processes ranging from small manufacturing sites to large steel or paper mills. The system comprises of Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC), supervisory control and data acquisition, distributed control systems and robotics.

PLC, a digital computer with robotic technology, is a vital part of majority of all current industrial processes today. It is used to automate several electromechanical processes like temperature ranges, immunity to electrical noise and resistance to vibration and impact.

"Graduates who will be employed in industries utilizing these systems must not only have basic knowledge of PLCs and robotics, but also the skills to integrate these systems. The knowledge and experience students receive will produce well-educated graduates with practical, hands-on experience designing, configuring and troubleshooting industrial control systems," Jim Frendewey, dean of Michigan Tech's School of Technology, said in a statement.

The funding will also help the university to upgrade Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) with modern equipments to offer enhanced training for students.

 "With these investments and partnerships, Nucor hopes to better equip students for post-graduation opportunities, opportunities we hope they seek with Nucor," Dave Davolt, electrical supervisor at the company, said.

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