The center will serve 7,200 students annually, as well as local workers
Polk State College opened a 47,000 sq-ft Clear Springs Advanced Technology Center  just east of Bartow, Fla. Through donations from Endress+Hauser, Rockwell Automation and TriNova, Polk State College will be the new home to a $1 million PTU (Process Training Unit).
The Polk State College PTU will serve as a location for companies who are seeking workforce training for their employees and customers, and for students to utilize as they pursue their degree programs. The PTU combines theory and a hands-on approach to provide participants with real-world experience in a safe, working process environment.
Corporate College Director Rob Clancey provided a short tour at the January 8 ribbon cutting and explained the ways in which the new set-up will benefit the community, state and the 7,200 students it will serve annually.
“Clear Springs is one of just three advanced technology centers in Florida,” said Clancey. “There are 147 of them in the nation now and more are expected to be established. It will serve beyond the county lines into the region, and be a go-to place for companies seeking to stay on top of the game.”
The PTU is designed to help students and customers gain hands-on experience with the types of operation, diagnostics and troubleshooting found in real-life process plants. It features Endress+Hauser flow, level, temperature, pressure and analytical instrumentation in addition to the PlantPAx process control system donated by Rockwell Automation.
The PlantPAx process automation system will be used in a functioning environment with field devices to train customers for operation and maintenance of process systems. In addition, it provides a venue for demonstrations of Endress+Hauser and Rockwell Automation technology and a regional resource for customers to obtain hands-on training in a controlled environment.
The partnership among the school, manufacturers, and the sales and service company TriNova Inc. will offer learning opportunities for college students and industrial training for workers from many large companies in Central Florida wanting to modernize their processing plants, and take advantage of new technology to develop more efficient operations.
TriNova will conduct workforce training courses at the facility in order to help companies in the region. Over the coming years, the workforce in the state of Florida will benefit from this investment and become the model for similar advanced technology centers around the country.
“The innovative approach we have taken at Polk State College is truly unique to the industry,” said Jerry Spindler, training manager for customer and field service training, Endress+Hauser USA. “By working alongside Polk State College and other universities to better develop workforce training opportunities for our customers, Endress+Hauser can help secure the talent pipeline and better prepare our next-generation workforce for successful careers in the field of automation—a core mission and dedicated initiative of Endress+Hauser.”
The PTU construction was part of a larger scale project to develop a $14.5 million Advanced Technology Center that will generate a greater trained workforce with higher skills—all with the hopes of driving employers to the area. The center will now house not only the new PTU but also high-tech degree programs such as Engineering Technology and Supply Chain Management.
The Polk State College PTU is one of seven across the U.S. with as many as five more projects underway to build more training facilities in order to keep up with the heightened demand for workforce training.