MCALLEN, RGV – South Texas College is taking the lead to begin training maquila workers on the use of cutting-edge automation at its Technology Campus in McAllen.

By announcing the Festo Certified Training Center for Robotics and Industrial Automation, STC is launching the first program of its kind in the nation, one that will enable manufacturers from Mexico to have the first shot at the groundbreaking technology.

Festo refers to a privately owned German industrial control and automation company, which is a leading global supplier of automation technology.

The Festo Certified Training Center will provide the local workforce with state of the art training and globally recognized credentials in different technologies of advanced manufacturing and industrial automation such as pneumatics, electro-pneumatics, mechanics, sensors, stepper and servo motor technologies, programmable logic controllers, and industrial robotics.

Festo, which has 17,800 employees in 176 countries, says its mission statement is the maximum productivity and competitiveness for customers in factory and process automation.

“A lot of what they do today in the maquilas is use a lot of automation technology and it is increasing,” said Carlos Margo, interim associate dean of industry training and economic development at South Texas College. “STC has wanted to bring Maquila workers over here for training for some time but getting the permits was not easy. We did have some border crossing issues and visas and permits but we were able to work that out with the help of McAllen EDC and the Mexican Consulate’s Office and Customs and Border Protection.

STC has received a special permit that will enable employers in Reynosa to send their staff to the college for specialized training without the usual formalities like student visas. The permit will be used specifically for customized training, according to Margo.

While grants are available for U.S. companies, training for workers from Mexico will be paid for by the employers themselves. There are more than 200,000 manufacturing employees employed within a 50 mile radius in Mexico, and there are more than 250 companies on the other side of the border between Miguel Aleman and Matamoros.

“We now have an avenue to provide information and build awareness in Reynosa regarding our Festo certification. They meet in Mission and Reynosa,” Margo said. “We are going to be working with the maquiladora industry association, INDEX.

“STC is now a member of INDEX, the first educational institution to become a member on the U.S. side,” Margo said.

The Office of Industry Training & Economic Development and the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing (IAM) at South Texas College announced their certification as a globally recognized Festo Certified Training Center at a special ceremony in May.

Currently STC-IAM training partners include Alps Automotive, Cinch Connectors, Coca Cola, Fiberio Technology, Fujitsu Ten, GE Energy, Grand Rapids Foam Technologies and Royal Technologies among others.

There are a lot of needs as far as people being well trained, and we need good training center like STC,” said INDEX board member Carlos Vela. “Festo is No. 1 for automation and robotics in the world. We have the equipment. We are under utilizing the facility and this certification will help a lot. I think we are going to have a very busy time in the future.”

Vela said he will help STC promote its Festo training opportunities in Reynosa.

Editor’s Note: Pictured in the main photo accompanying this story are: Tony Oran, Services & Solutions Sales Manager, North America, Festo, Paul R. Rodriguez, Trustee, South Texas College, Graciela Farias, Trustee, South Texas College, Dr. Manuel Gonzalez, Dean of the College of Engineering & Computer Science, UT-RGV, Andres Alcantar, Chairman, Commissioner Representing the Public, TWC, Carlos Margo, Interim Associate Dean of Industry Training & Economic Development, South Texas College, Dr. Shirley A. Reed, President, South Texas College, Wanda Garza, Interim Vice President of Student Affairs & Enrollment Management, South Texas College, Dr. Theodoros Ktistakis, Executive Vice President, Sales US & Latin America, Festo, Francisco Almaraz, CEO, Workforce Solutions and Octavio Rojas, Customer Solutions Sales Manager, Festo.

Editor’s Note: Click here to watch a video of Carlos Margo explaining South Texas College’s Festo certification. Click here to read the Rio Grande Guardian’s original story on the STC-Festo tie-up.