Emerson Center for Engineering and Manufacturing

Emerson Center facade

Overview

The Emerson Center for Engineering and Manufacturing is committed to developing a skilled work force for the St. Louis region and providing technical support to the region’s manufacturing industry. We are the hub that brings the capabilities of the workforce development unit of St. Louis Community College—Workforce Solutions Group—with the expertise of the academic unit—the Engineering & Technology department—to support engineering and manufacturing in our region.  From today’s employees to tomorrow’s new hires, from re-tooling for those in mid-career to opening the eyes of the next  generation to the great career opportunities awaiting them, the Emerson Center brings resources together to get it done!

Opened in 2004, the 31,000-square-foot Emerson Center facility features state-of-the-art tooling and equipment, including 14,000 square feet of laboratory space and classrooms. 

The Emerson Center provides associates degrees, certificate programs and customized training programs to the local manufacturing and engineering workforce. The center's outreach efforts include enhancing the skills of current employees, helping companies develop a qualified pool of job candidates and supporting opportunities for K-12 students to learn about careers in engineering, engineering technology and manufacturing. We partner with the St. Louis Community College Workforce Solutions Group to support grant funded training programs and to provide college credit for customized training when possible. We also work closely with the Engineering and Technology Department to serve the needs of the region’s manufacturing and engineering-related industries. Our services range from a series of custom credit classes leading to an academic certificate to simply assisting companies with enrolling employees into regularly scheduled classes that meet the company’s workforce training needs. 

We also collaborate with the Engineering & Technology department to support a variety of K-12 activities — camps, contests and competitions—along with tours and hands on activities. The Center supports efforts to build a seamless pathway from high school to community college to baccalaureate programs and from trade unions to community college. 

History

Planning for the Emerson Center for Engineering and Manufacturing began in 1996 after the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education was charged by Senate Bill 101 (1995) to develop a state plan for a continuous integrated system to deliver postsecondary technical education programs.  This bill resulted in the establishment of Regional Technical Education Councils (RTEC) to foster and fund seamless, focused technical education.

After much research, manufacturing was chosen as the focus of the Florissant Valley campus’ center of excellence. The current state of STLCC offerings was studied along with a gap analysis and needs assessment for the region. An extensive study of more than 1800 manufacturing firms in the St. Louis area was commissioned, formal and informal input was received from hundreds of individuals and companies, and professional organizations were consulted. Additionally, an extensive review of job opening advertisements was conducted. The gap analysis showed that four-year universities provided well prepared engineering-level employees and area technical schools provided employees with machining and other entry level skills. However, the region needed employees with mid-level engineering technologist skills and the theoretical foundations for on-the-job problem solving. On the cusp of the new century, the needs of quickly advancing high-tech manufacturing for a high-tech workforce were clear. Planning and fundraising for the Emerson Center began!

Groundbreaking for the Center’s construction, supported by $2.1 million from the State of Missouri, $1.5 million in donations from Emerson, Boeing, Patriot Machines, UGS, Carr Lane, and college faculty and administrators, occurred in spring, 2003. Dedication of the $4.8 million facility was celebrated on November 22, 2004. St. Louis Community College continues to support the Emerson Center with ongoing improvements and upgrades to our lab equipment and teaching tools.  

Industry Support

The Emerson Center for Engineering and Manufacturing is committed to developing a skilled workforce for the St. Louis region and providing technical support to the region’s manufacturing industry. The Emerson Center, located on the Florissant Valley campus of St. Louis Community College, provides degree and certificate programs and customized training programs to the local manufacturing and engineering workforce. Our help can be simple or extensive:

  • Assisting a company employee with finding the right class and guidance through admissions and registration;
  • Arranging a special section of a course at days and times that work for your employee  group;
  • Arranging special training geared to just the information your current employees need;
  • Helping you create a pool of potential employees that meet your hiring needs.

We can bring together the resources of the Engineering & Technology department at the Florissant Valley campus of St. Louis Community College and the Workforce Solutions Group at the Corporate College location in Bridgeton to serve the needs of the St. Louis region. Here are examples of hiring pools we have created.

  • Boeing: Since 2007 and continuing now, we provide an accelerated training program to create a pool of potential assembly mechanics for Boeing. Depending on Boeing’s needs, we have delivered a 5 week program focused on sheet metal assembly and riveting or a 10-week program that also includes training for electrical and mechanical assembly. We are also providing training for aerospace composite fabrication and assembly to meet Boeing’s hiring needs. We have offered a day class format and an evening class format. Individuals who complete the program receive a job interview from Boeing. 
     
  • Ameren: Ameren Missouri chose the Emerson Center to develop a pool of qualified candidates for their line worker apprentice position. When Ameren anticipated a need to fill a new apprentice class, we partnered with the America’s Job Centers to collect and screen resumes from interested applicants. After testing and interviews, participants were selected for our training class that exposed them to pole climbing skills and reviewed basic math, technical reading and mechanical concepts. Participants took Ameren’s screening test upon completion of our class and if successful continued in Ameren’s screening process. This program was last offered in 2015. 
     
  • AT&T: For over 18 years, we delivered a highly customized 15-month program for AT&T to prepare office and clerical workers to transfer into higher paying, in demand technical positions within the company. Employees earned a Certificate of Proficiency in Telecommunications Engineering Technology.

In spring 2018, we partnered with Workforce Solutions Group to develop a pre-employment/pre-apprenticeship model focused on manufacturing.  The curriculum includes an overview of manufacturing processes, workflow, hands-on projects, measurement, communication skills, "soft skills" such as attitude, attendance and accountability, and more.  Does your company find applicants with technical skills but lacking soft skills?  Does your company find eager applicants with no knowledge of manufacturing?  We would enjoy working with groups of small to mid-size companies with common skill needs.  With the help of your HR department's referrals and promise to interview successful completers, we could turn so-so applicants into great applicants!

Facilities

The Emerson Center for Engineering & Manufacturing covers over 14,000 square feet of laboratory and classroom space. Students study in the sun-filled Emerson lobby, which also hosts events and meetings. The Emerson Center includes the Advanced Manufacturing Center, Electronics, CAD and Additive Manufacturing Labs.

Advanced Manufacturing Center Labs 

Programs

STLCC programs utilizing the Advanced Manufacturing Center Lab include:

  • Precision Machining Technology
  • Computer Integrated Manufacturing
  • Robotics and Automation
  • Engineering Science
Machinery and Equipment

The Advanced Manufacturing Lab houses equipment and machinery for courses and technical training in precision manufacturing, manufacturing processes, welding, metrology, robotics, plastics, metallurgy and material strengths testing. The manual machining area has mills, lathes, drill press, grinders and band saws.  The CNC area has 3-axis mills and lathes, a 5-axis mill, and a water jet.  The lab computer classroom includes Haas simulators and MasterCam and VeriCut software.  Other manufacturing processes available are plasma cutting, wire and plunge EDMs, bar feeding lathe, a tooling center and a small foundry for making aluminum castings.  The welding area contains arc, MIG and TIG stations and plasma cutters.

The Labs have equipment for metrology, robotics, and plastics processing.  The Metrology Lab has two coordinate measuring machines (CMM), an optical comparator, sine bars, gage blocks, surface plates and other precision measuring equipment.

The Robotics Lab includes two industrial Fischer Scientific robot arms with FANUC controllers and a variety of robots for working with sensors and programming skills.  The lab provides tools and training to gain an understanding of robotic components and basic programming for Computer Integrated Manufacturing.

The plastics area includes a variety of molding and forming equipment.

Metallurgy and Strength of Materials lab equipment includes hardness testers, impact testers, torsion testers and a heat treating furnace.  The Computer Integrated Manufacturing and Engineering Science students use these labs for testing adhesives, ferrous and non-ferrous metals.

Electronics Labs

Programs

STLCC programs utilizing the Electronics Labs include:

  • Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technology
  • Biomedical Electronics Technology
Equipment

The Electronics Labs are located on the second floor of the Emerson Center.  The equipment includes oscilloscopes, frequency counters, DC power supply and function generators.  The Electronics Fabrication Lab is used to design, process and manufacture printed circuit boards for projects such as audio amplifiers and variable power supplies.   The equipment encompasses both photographic/chemical etching processes and automated computer controlled processes along with a variety of soldering options. One lab area focuses on motor controls, another on PC repair, and another of biomedical equipment repair and troubleshooting.  In the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) Lab, students learn to program these devices that control automated processes from robotic arms to elevators to assembly lines.

Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Additive Manufacturing Labs

Programs

STLCC programs utilizing the CAD Labs include:

  • Computer Aided Design Certificate of Specialization
  • Computer Integrated Manufacturing
  • Robotics and Automation Certificate
  • Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technology
  • Engineering Science
Equipment

The CAD labs, with 20 computer workstations, teach the principles of creating two and three dimensional drawings, solid modeling design for manufacturing and post-processing procedures so designs can be used by manufacturing equipment and 3D printers. A wide variety of software is available for design, computer programming and robotics. The Additive Manufacturing (where material is added layer by layer unlike other manufacturing processes where material is cut away from the initial stock) Lab contains equipment for several different 3D printing technologies. This lab has two industry-grade machines—Fused Deposition Modeling and Multi-Jet Modeling—and several smaller printers built from kits by students and staff.  The Engineering Technology Center is also on the second floor.  This computer lab has available all the software students need for homework or projects related to engineering technology programs.

The Center for Workforce Innovation, also on the Florissant Valley campus has additional labs devoted to manufacturing related technologies and workforce development.

Educational Outreach

As part of our efforts to encourage the young learners of today to become the skilled work force of tomorrow, the Emerson Center for Engineering and Manufacturing hosts several annual events and activities, including:

  • FIRST LEGO League & FTC Competition -- two-day competition that showcases more than 450 elementary, middle and high school students from St. Louis and seven surrounding states. The event is sponsored by For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST). In the LEGO League competition, teams of 9-to 14-year-old children design, build and program robots using LEGO MIND STORM technology. The FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) is a mid-level robotics competition for high school-aged students.
  • Project Lead the Way -- The Emerson Center and STLCC provide local sponsorship of PLTW, a national not-for-profit organization. The hands-on, project and problem-based curriculum adds rigor and relevance to high school technical programs. PLTW coursework is eligible for articulated credit in related Engineering & Technology Department programs. 
  • PLTW Competition -- We planned and hosted an annual PLTW competition on our campus. Upon arrival, teams of area high schools students received an engineering problem and must create, design and build a solution during the morning. After lunch, they demonstrated their solution. Awards are given for teamwork, design and overall performance.
  • Girl Scouts Technology Camp- week long Girl Scout Technology Camp where up to 50 girls were introduced to engineering, manufacturing and science technologies through fun, age-appropriate activities. The camp was supported by the Girls Scouts, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and the Emerson Center for 10 years.
  • TEAMS Competition -- one-day, two-part national competition challenging high school students in grades 9-12 to work together to apply knowledge learned in the classroom to real-world engineering scenarios.

We also support K-12 schools by attending career fairs, STEM awareness events and hosting tours of our facilities or coordinating campus-sponsored visits that incorporate a variety of hands on activities across STEM and Career & Technical Education areas.  We find that exposure to our lab facilities is the best experience we can offer young people.

Emerson Center partners with secondary schools and universities to provide seamless, non-duplicated educational programs from high school through baccalaureate programs, including:

Engineering or Engineering Technology?

Which career pathway are you drawn to: engineering or engineering technology? What is the difference between the two and how does the education differ? It's important for students to understand the difference between these two pathways as they begin to plan their education. Although there is overlap in the work done by people in these two areas, the education is very different.

In general, engineers spend more of their time analyzing and planning solutions to problems and applying engineering theories. Engineers devise the best solution to meet the constraints of a project or situation. Engineering students learn and apply calculus in their classes and must earn a bachelor degree to become a professional engineer. If this is your interest, STLCC has an Engineering Science Associate of Science degree that encompasses the first two years of an Engineering Bachelor of Science degree. STLCC students transfer to engineering schools at a variety of universities and then focus on an engineering specialty like mechanical, chemical, aerospace, electrical, civil, etc. 

Engineering technology programs prepare students to apply the solutions designed by engineers to solve engineering problems. Engineering technologists and technicians apply algebra and trigonometry to implement solutions. They will often work alongside engineers in a research lab or may work in the field or a production facility. Since engineering technology courses are not based on calculus, most courses will not transfer to an engineering science program. However, some students, knowing that not all the credits will transfer, choose to begin by earning a technology degree either for the practical and industry based hands-on experience or to be able to work at a challenging well paid technical job while they attend engineering school part-time. Most engineering technology students simply prefer "doing" to "analyzing and planning." STLCC has Associate of Applied Science degrees and certificates in several engineering technology fields: computer aided design or robotics and automation; computer integrated manufacturing; electrical, electronic or biomedical electronics.

One of the great things about this career area is that employees can continue to advance their careers through the years. This ability to interweave your education pathway and career pathway is very useful.  Consider these descriptions below.  Where do you want to begin your career and where do you want to end up?

  • Craftsperson - A user of hand, power or machine tools to build, operate, maintain or service machines and products useful to the technological team as well as society.
  • Technician - Assistant to the engineer or scientist who carries out the details of the technical work.
  • Technologist - Applies principles of engineering and/or science in a specific area of technology.
  • Engineer - Cost-conscious, practical innovator, designer, problem recognizer and solver.
  • Scientist - Seeks basic new knowledge of nature and its laws through research and investigation.

View a handout of these different career levels.

View a summary of the differences between engineering and engineering technology.

View a graphic showing the overlap of duties for engineering and engineering technology.

Faculty and Staff

Emerson Center Staff

Amy Sonderman, Coordinator, Emerson Center
asonderman@stlcc.edu
314-513-4307

Steve Ehlen, Supervisor, Engineering Technology Center
sehlen@stlcc.edu
314-513-4566

Bill Hoffmann, Technician, Electrical Labs
bhoffmann@stlcc.edu
314-513-4312

Kevin Porter, Lab Supervisor, Manufacturing Labs
kporter@stlcc.edu
314-513-4914

 

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Engineering & Technology Faculty

Tom McGovern, Department Chair
tmcgovern@stlcc.edu
314-513-4313

Cheryl Williams, Secretary
clwilliams@stlcc.edu
314-513-4308

Carl Fischer, Manufacturing/Machining
cfischer@stlcc.edu
314-513-4322

Terrence Freeman, Engineering Science
tfreeman@stlcc.edu
314-513-4813

Tom McGovern, Robotics/Manufacturing
tmcgovern@stlcc.edu
314-513-4313

Tim Pedersen, Engineering Science
tpedersen@stlcc.edu
314-513-4646

Amy Sherwin, Skilled Trades/Engineering Science
absherwin@stlcc.edu
314-513-4315

Richard Unger, Civil/Construction
runger@stlcc.edu
314-513-4319

Dave Kobe, Electrical/Electronics
dkobe@stlcc.edu
314-513-4814

 

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