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GPTC AMC hosts Georgia's first Rockwell Automation Academy Training

COVINGTON, Ga. - Georgia Piedmont Technical College's Advanced Manufacturing Center, located in Covington, held the first-ever Rockwell Automation Academy Training in Georgia during the week of Aug. 19.

Through a partnership with Rockwell Automation, GPTC AMC was able to provide hands-on training, with specialized Rockwell instructors, to educate manufacturing employees on the newest hardware and up-to-date software in the industry. 

Manufacturing employees learned about programmable logic controllers, or PLCs, and related devices. PLCs are an industrial digital computer used for inputs and outputs - meaning PLCs help the industry machinery make decisions. 

Darryl Blackwood, Golden State Foods employee, learned how to troubleshoot and maintain PLCs during the week of training.

“I’m hoping to achieve a better foundation of what I already know and help me at the workplace," he said. "We have a lot of machines and PLCs. Now that I’ve learned these things, I can walk in comfortably and say, ‘Okay, if there’s a problem, I know exactly what to do and troubleshoot it and fix it.’”

Levi Hall, SKC employee, said he was now able to "navigate through [SKC's] machines" and can now "edit and create code for them."

The goal of Rockwell Automation Academy Training is to create "the most robust and well-trained workforce anywhere in the country," according to Serra Hall, senior project manager for Covington/Newton County Economic Development.

“Our goal here is to show as the state of Georgia, and also as our region down to I-20, we can have the most well trained and robust workforce than anyone else and be at the top of the line for our workforce development," she said. "To have an opportunity like this locally, it’s a testament to not only the partnership with Rockwell but to the vision set aside for Georgia Piedmont Technical College."

There are only three states in the U.S. that offer an automation academy training: Georgia, Florida and Oklahoma.

"This is much bigger than Newton County," Dave Bernd, vice president of Covington/Newton County Economic Development, said.

The GPTC AMC has a regional radius of 250 miles, covering manufacturing facilities in all of Georgia, Alabama and northern Florida.

Bernd believed automation training is necessary for the workplace.

“All the employees of the future are going to be interacting with computers, programming the computers, troubleshooting the computers, and that’s why this training is so incredibly important," he said. "If the manufacturing employees do not get that education, they will find themselves out of a job. This is actually providing the platform - regionally - to ensure individuals, working in manufacturing, have the tools and techniques they need to succeed in decades to come.”

“The automation platforms are changing so drastically and so quickly that if this training does not take place, the productivity of our industries will not gain the full advance of the capital they put into their equipment," he added.

The GPTC AMC wanted to make sure their industry partners knew the school is responding to their needs.

“We are here to be responsive," Dr. Irvin Clark, vice president of economic development for GPTC Newton campus, said. “Our expectation is based off what they want us to be able to do.”

“All these companies need the same thing - a talented, skilled workforce," Marty Jones, executive director of Conyers Rockdale Economic Development Council, said. "Technology is changing, so to keep these men and women competitive, it’s important to have this training. It’s great for the community as a whole.”

The Rockwell Automation Academy Training schedule at GPTC AMC is available now through December; however, GPTC AMC is developing classes for 2020.

For more information, contact Bryan Sexton at or 404-297-9522, ext. 1572.