Phoenix Contact partners with Purdue University to educate future engineers

May 31, 2018

Engineering technology students at Purdue University’s Polytechnic Institute are getting hands-on automation experience from the university’s partnership with Phoenix Contact USA. Over the past several years, Phoenix Contact has donated more than $200,000 in hardware to support a variety of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) projects at Purdue.

The latest joint effort resulted in an advanced automation and industrial networking lab for undergraduate courses. The new multi-workstation area includes Phoenix Contact’s IEC 61131 programming software, PC Worx, along with visualization software, 802.11 wireless, Profinet networking and distributed safety I/O. During class or when they are working on capstone projects, students can put concepts like visualization, networking and control into practice. Students can integrate additional products via the distributed power, open I/O ports, and available mounting DIN rail. Student projects have included an automated hammer-assembly machine and an automated oven.

With Phoenix Contact’s help, Purdue has upgraded several automation labs with high-tech networking and automation equipment. The introduction to industrial automation labs’ workstations feature Phoenix Contact’s Push-in connection technology, so they hold up to the hundreds of connections and disconnections the students make each year. In their manufacturing lab, students also retrofitted an older plastic extrusion machine with Phoenix Contact controls, I/O, and visualization solutions. A current project is using Phoenix Contact field cabling to update a material handling conveyor system. Donated components also include power supplies, relays, terminal blocks, stack lights, marking devices and tools.

The partnership also extends to middle school students, through the TECHFIT program. Several years ago, professors at Purdue and the College of Charleston in Charleston, S.C., created a middle school training program that combines technology and fitness through a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Over the past few years, Phoenix Contact has donated more than $65,000 in equipment, which students use to design and implement technology-based fitness games.

Purdue is a member of EduNet, Phoenix Contact’s international education network, which brings together schools and industrial partners in the automation technology field. The Polytechnic Institute is also a regional host for Phoenix Contact’s annual Nanoline Contest for middle and high school students.
“By giving Purdue Polytechnic students better tools and fully equipped labs, we can prepare them for the engineering challenges of the real world. We’ve seen this success firsthand, as Phoenix Contact has hired several highly qualified Purdue graduates for our Apprenticeship Program,” said Jack Nehlig, president of Phoenix Contact USA.

“The addition of the Phoenix Contact workstations significantly enhances our industrial networking and data communications with the ability to now address Profinet for use with data collection and equipment control,” said Bradley Harriger, lead professor for the School of Engineering Technology’s Manufacturing Engineering Technology program in the Purdue University Polytechnic Institute. “The continued support from Phoenix Contact with equipment, as well as professional guidance, assures that our students will be prepared for the demands of today’s industrial environments.”

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