Manley: The future is coming with help from BCTC

Published 11:30 am Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Let me introduce you to Moley. Pronounced as “Molly,” she will change the future of how we prepare and cook meals at home. Imagine two robotic arms positioned over a cooktop stove.

With utensils and ingredients within reach, her arms glide effortlessly back and forth cooking spaghetti like you and I would. With a set of preprogrammed recipes, you can load the app on your tablet while at work and have a gourmet meal ready for you and your family by the time you get home.

The future can’t get here soon enough! When will this glorious technology be available? In 10 or 15 years? How about 2017? At a starting price of around $10K you can bet that this technology won’t take long to be installed in homes around the globe.

If a robot can cook you a meal at home, how long will it be before they start cooking for you in restaurants? The logical answer is not long. Robots have already replaced several jobs in manufacturing and the trend shows no sign of slowing down. Technology needs no retirement, sick time, health insurance or vacation days. They can work around the clock and not violate labor laws.

What happens to that displaced worker? Are there less jobs for people? Not really. It is true that person who used to check out your groceries is no longer there, but how many people are behind the scenes working to produce and maintain that self-checkout station? Someone needs to design, program, build and service that technology. And those someones need more skills past a high school diploma.

The future workforce will require more education and training. Here at Bluegrass Community and Technical College we are preparing tomorrow’s workforce today. With programs in integrated engineering technology, welding, computerized manufacturing and machining, engineering and electronics technology, computer-aided drafting design (CADD) and civil engineering, we are the area leader in advanced manufacturing, ensuring the future workforce has the training necessary to meet the demands of new technology. But we can’t do it without students.

More and more hiring managers are saying they can’t find workers with the right skills for their jobs. That is why we created the 1+1 program in integrated engineering technology right here in Winchester. In partnership with the Clark County Area Technology Center and local businesses, high school students are taking classes in fluid power, electronics, and PLC (programmable logic controllers). After the student graduates, these high school classes transfer in to BCTC and complete year one of the two-year degree.

While completing coursework and internships with local manufactures, students are ready for the workforce just one year after they graduate high school. Thus one year in high school and one year out is what we call the 1+1 program.

To learn more contact ATC principal Michael Kindred or shoot me an email at bruce.manley@kctcs.edu. And learn more about Moley, the robotic chef, at www.moley.com. Next year when you buy Moley, remember my favorite dish is lasagna.

Bruce Manley is the campus director of Bluegrass Community and Technical College in Winchester.