Explore how SICK values using “technology for good” to continue to support the next generation of the technological workforce at Hennepin Technical College

SICK: A Partner in Education with Hennepin Technical College

As a technology and market leader, SICK provides sensor intelligence and application solutions to create the perfect basis for efficiently controlling processes. SICK enjoys giving back to the community in whatever way possible. One of the ways SICK does this is by supporting schools and the next generation of the technological workforce like the students at Hennepin Techincal College.

SICK supports education in many different ways: through the TiM$10K Challenge, SICK’s Hackathon in Germany, and most recently, partnering with schools by donating sensors and money to further advance technology. “Technology for good,” one of SICK’s strongest values, means to use technology to advance our current systems and use technology alongside humans, not to replace humans. That is what SICK aims to accomplish throughout partnering with schools like Hennepin Technical College.

SICK’s Donation to Hennepin Tech

SICK is a proud member of PMMI, the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute. SICK reached out to Hennepin Tech about donating a wide variety of sensors, from photoelectric sensors to LiDAR. These sensors will be used in a class where students will apply their knowledge to the sensors by identifying what it is, apply it to course material, and use the sensors in real-life situations.

Through the PMMI Foundation, the foundation provides matching funds to schools when companies make donations. Donations range from $50,000 per company per year. PMMI is committed to supporting the future of the packaging and processing industry by providing programs, sponsorships, and scholarships to students and companies.

“The school can receive up to $50,000 from a single company. We are thrilled as we are trying to expand the program and could capitalize on SICK sensors and implement those into an entire classroom. We are extremely thankful for the support from SICK and the PMMI Foundation,” said Jeff Thorstad, an Instructor at Hennepin Technical College.

About Hennepin Tech’s Program

Hennepin Tech has an automation, robotics and engineering program which offers courses in mechatronics, giving students a technological advantage and highlighting specific skillsets employers are looking for. The program was originally founded in 1973 through a partnership with PMMI, and eventually evolved into more automation packaging with a strong emphasis in robotics.

The goal is to provide the students with as much real-world knowledge as possible and to have them be as equipped as possible when entering the workforce. As we move into a new generation of workers, technology will continue to become more prevalent. The purpose of Hennepin Tech’s program is to give students a variety of different sensors to work with, from traditional sensors to smart sensors. Traditional sensors are typically inexpensive and easy to use and are less technologically advanced. Smart sensors have enhanced sensing, leading to efficient communication, diagnostics, and smart tasks. It is extremely beneficial to understand both technologies, as you can find them both in use today. The more you know, the more you’ll be able to work with a variety of operations, and appear more profitable to business professionals.

“We’re still getting to see a lot of old machines that have traditional sensors rather than smart sensors. Through all of this, we’re able to give students an exposure to both the old and new style of sensors,” said Thorstad.

Hennepin Tech has two locations, one in Eden Prairie and one in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. The complete program is offered at the Eden Prairie location, but the plan is to expand their current program to their Brooklyn Park location as well. The donation of SICK sensors gave Hennepin Tech all the equipment needed to offer three more complete classes and will provide additional funding for other products. The hope is for Hennepin Tech to continue to grow a space for students to be the most prepared they can be when heading into the workforce.

Have any questions about SICK donations through PMMI? Reach out to bryan.sellars@sick.com.