Gateway Technical College has positioned itself as the centerpiece of a “smart factory” training consortium with several local colleges and universities to accommodate the specific manufacturing needs of Foxconn Technology Group.

Gateway president Bryan Albrecht, after a Thursday board meeting, unveiled the first-of-its kind Industry 4.0 certification training program.

Gateway will team with several other schools, including Milwaukee Area Technical College, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Marquette University and Waukesha County Technical College, in the consortium.

Other partners include Racine County, the Walworth County Economic Development Alliance and some training certification organizations.

The program allows prospective students to learn about the process and take courses before entering college.

They can earn college credit toward certificates and degrees at participating high schools, as well as in two- and four-year colleges and universities.

Gateway already has pre-college programs for Kenosha Unified School District students and has listed the New Berlin school district as a partner in the consortium.

Cutting-edge curriculum

Albrecht said Gateway took the initiative to build out the curriculum.

The 54-credit program leads to an associate degree, but there are also paths to advanced degrees with the other institutions in the consortium. The goal, he said, is to lead students to engineering and four-year degrees.

Some of the courses include Introduction of Mechatronics, Introduction to Industrial Control Systems, Introduction to Industrial Robotics and Introduction to Industrial Internet of Things.

While the Foxconn manufacturing campus is not expected to be completed until early 2019, it has begun manufacturing from a leased industrial building in Mount Pleasant.

Meanwhile, Foxconn has posted job openings for engineers, technicians and several other positions requiring college degrees or specific certifications.

‘Smart manufacturing’

Albrecht said Industry 4.0, commonly known as “smart manufacturing,” is a cutting-edge manufacturing system that has computers communicating with computers and robots communicating, diagnosing and troubleshooting other robots, equipment and processes.

The technology includes cyber-physical systems, the internet, cloud computing and cognitive computing.

Industry officials say it creates a “smart factory” that provides more efficiency and reduces manufacturing and processing time.

Albrecht said the system also allows for individual customized products to be produced quickly.