Businesses Benefit from Groves Training



Local employers are benefiting from the expertise, technology and equipment that exist at Kalamazoo Valley Community College as a result of the development of the Mechatronic System Technician Academy program at The Groves.

For evidence of that benefit, just ask Hydro Aluminum, Maintenance Manager, Glenn Estep. Six Hydro Maintenance personnel recently completed a 110 hour Industrial Electricity and Programmable Controls (PLC) training program that was customized to meet their operation and equipment needs.

The program originated with a request from Hydro Aluminum to Trish Schroeder, Director of Corporate Training at the Groves Center, for Advanced Electrical Troubleshooting. Schroeder understood they needed a training program that would provide Hydro’s maintenance personnel with the skills to troubleshoot basic electrical and PLC equipment failures, implement preventative maintenance best practices, and reduce outsourced repairs and the costs associated with them.

Schroeder knew the perfect team of instructors from KVCC and the Groves Academy who could deliver the customized electrical and programmable control expertise. As a result, Hydro employees were able to participate in instructor-led interactive classroom sessions and practical lab application exercises while using the technology and equipment in the Groves Academy facilities. The classroom and lab exercise activities built a solid foundation of fundamentals that enabled the participants to take their newly acquired knowledge and apply it to real world equipment issues found at Hydro Aluminum. Hydro employees were provided with the opportunity to troubleshoot and propose fixes to existing electrical and PLC equipment challenges at their plant while under the guidance of Academy Instructor Subject Matter Experts.

Tom Sutton, Associate Director in the career academy program, said some training sessions were conducted on Saturdays at labs at The Groves and others were delivered during the week in Hydro Aluminum’s plant. He said Hydro management contacted Kalamazoo Valley Corporate Training because they were impressed with the hands on training capabilities developed through our career academies. Sutton said “They identified their intended outcomes.” “We put together a training based on their needs, and delivered it at times and locations that worked best for them.”

The arrangement reinforced Sutton’s belief that he and his colleagues in the training academies are arming students with skills that they can take directly to the workforce. “We’re teaching exactly what industry wants,” Sutton said.

To tie all the training together, Greg Meeuwsen, Instructional Manager, Mechatronic Systems Technician Academy, went to Hydro Aluminum and worked with the newly-trained employees on their equipment. Employing opportunity teaching, Meeuwsen was able to assist the trainees to make actual repairs on equipment that had failed. “It’s a huge win for Hydro,” Meeuwsen said. “They used to hire an outside company for repairs, but now their own maintenance crew can handle it.”

If you have a technical training need, contact Trish Schroeder, Director of Corporate Training, Kalamazoo Valley Groves Center 269-353-1275.