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Preparing for the Future: Morrison Tech Receives Grant to Begin Specialization in Automation, Process Control | Local News

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Morrison, Illinois – When U.S. Congressman Cheri Bustos visited Morrison Institute of Technology five years ago, she was impressed by its engineering and network management programs.

So when it came time to present her federally-funded regional project check on her current—and her final, planned Heartland tour across northwestern and central Illinois— Morrison Tech was on her list.

The Bustos, a Democrat representing Illinois’ 17th District, presented $1.5 million to school officials on Wednesday. This will help launch a new specialization in engineering technology programs focused on automation and process control systems.

Funding the Morrison Institute of Technology was a top priority for Bustos. Bustos told her school officials during her visit about the impression her school had made on her on her previous tours.

“We’ve been very impressed with what you’re doing and partnering with other businesses,” she said. It’s one of the big grants, and we’re really happy to have supported it and really proud of all you’re doing for the next generation.”

The skills students acquire in the Automation and Process Control Systems program will help support manufacturers who rely on automated or intelligent systems for their operations, as well as companies looking to add this capability.

For manufacturers, barriers to integrating automated processes include the initial cost of automation, the availability of skilled labor required to design, implement, and maintain the automation system, and the expertise required to support the transition. and resources, school officials said. Providing this workforce development will be key to sustaining and growing local, regional and statewide manufacturing, they said.

This program adds topics in electrical, hydraulics, programmable logic controllers, and process automation to the core of general research and engineering coursework. It will also add the advanced capabilities of Morrison Institute of Technology’s Innovation Center and enhance manufacturing support through expanded business services, school officials said.

Morrison Tech President Chris Scott said: “This is a great opportunity to invest in the region’s future workforce and embrace the future of tomorrow today.”

Students can now visit the Morrison Tech website ( to enroll in new specializations starting Fall 2023. The first class will graduate in May 2025.

Morrison Institute of Technology’s history dates back to its founding nearly 50 years ago in 1973 when it acquired the property of the Drafting Institute in downtown Morrison. Richard Parkinson, Arlene Lambeau and Dr. Albert O’Day were key to founding and organizing the university.

Since then, Morrison Institute of Technology has offered various degrees in engineering technology. The university was first accredited by the state of Illinois to award associate engineer degrees in 1973. It became a private, non-profit university in 1977. In the 1980s, the school added apartment-style dormitories.

Computer-aided design also revolutionized drafting and drafting instruction at the time. That computer skill eventually led to his 2003 addition of a network administration program. In 2007, the university added a new administration building, auditorium, and network lab space.

The growth of prototyping technology also had a significant impact on teaching in the 2000s, leading to the construction of the Innovation Center in 2018.

Expanding lab and student opportunities, applying technical education, and assuming leadership roles in engineering and community development characterize the modern Morrison Institute of Technology, said Morrison Tech’s vice president of academic affairs. One Scott Connery said:

Automation has been the mantra of manufacturing for decades, but the sector has seen rapid expansion in recent years, he explained. This technology is cost-effective, provides a solution to manufacturing problems in the production of sensitive products that require an aseptic production environment, and helps companies make the most of their workforce. In recent years, manufacturers in several sectors have shown interest in programs that address automation and process control, he said.

“Automation is becoming more relevant. They’ve been talking about it for decades,” Connery said. But in reality, technology, especially he IT technology, networking technology type technology, has improved to the point that it is cost effective to implement these even for small businesses. ”

The $1.5 million grant will cover capital costs for new specialties.

“Equipment and lab space is a big capital cost,” he said. “He’s one of the reasons we never launched.”

Officials from the Black Hawk Hills Regional Council and Whiteside County Economic Development wrote a grant proposal to Bustos and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin in spring 2021 to inform schools about available grants for local projects. Money goes to schools through the Housing and Urban Development Authority.

He also said that Morrison Tech plans to add staff members and will also consider hiring individuals with industry and/or academic backgrounds to support the staff members it adds to the innovation center.

The goal here is to get the public on campus, to use the Innovation Center, and to participate in the Made @ Morrison program. The Made @ Morrison program allows you to make mallets, laser his cut signs and clocks, and other activities.

“We have one director who manages and oversees it, but we need to add support for him,” he said.

In addition to the grant to Morrison Tech, Bastos also distributed $750,000 to the Rock River Valley YMCA in Rockford, Illinois. $300,000 to Rosecrance Freeport. Funding secured through community project funding process, $4.5 million for Peoria Ag lab. Earlier this year, The New York Times reported that Bustos was the top Democrat in the House of Representatives, who took home federal community project funding in the first year of the process.