Mobile Skills Lab Debut

On August 9-11, Ashley Furniture held its annual charity event, Ashley for the Arts. The initiative started in 2009 as a way to support more than 40 nonprofit organizations. Guests experienced three days of arts and craft fairs, car shows, a 5k run/walk, and live performances by artists like Rascal Flatts, Daughtry and Rick Springfield.

But music and the arts weren’t the only items of interest at the event.

The Mobile Skills Lab is a sleek, 53' long trailer

Commanding the attention of guests entering through the parking lot stood a 53-foot Mobile Skills Laboratory. Fully expanded, it transforms into a 900-square-foot classroom. Funded by Ashley’s Education Foundation, the lab is a center of cutting-edge education technology. Visitors had the opportunity to walk through the lab and interact with the training equipment and eLearning curriculum provided by Amatrol, FANUC and LAB Midwest.

Among the items in the lab were training tools used in Automation, Robotics, Smart Manufacturing technology, smart sensors & devices, Data Analytics, Fluid Power, Mechanical Drives, AC/DC Electrical, Electric Relay Control, Power & Control Electronics, Programmable Logic Controllers and much more.

An estimated 10,000 people explored the lab during its 2-day debut at Ashley for the Arts. But this is just the beginning of its impact on students.

The lab expands into a 900 square foot classroom

Four school districts will use the lab this year — Whitehall, Blair-Taylor, Arcadia and Independence. The districts created a co-op on the foundation of instilling an interest in industry careers and equipping them with valuable advanced manufacturing skills. The Mobile Skills Laboratory is a groundbreaking way to accomplish this goal.

Industry 4.0 in Schools

The future for students in Industry 4.0 is bright, and it’s being made possible by Ashley Furniture’s commitment to education. Jim Dotta, Vice President of Casegoods/Engineering with Ashley Furniture Industries, who is also part of Ashley’s Education Foundation, says the company supports the development of tools and curriculum for industry:

Ashley Furniture has always believed in education. Ashley invested in a Mobile Skills Laboratory for all our local high schools to foster technical and engineering careers and career pathways in many fields of study from agriculture to advanced manufacturing to Information technology to engineering and computer aided design. The courses in the lab, supplied by LAB Midwest, Amatrol and FANUC are foundational to many careers. The curriculum and trainers are standardized throughout the world and are competency based. Ashley believes that the United States needs to compete on a global stage if it is to continue to improve the economic well-being of its citizens.

The eLearning curriculum and equipment featured in the Mobile Skills Laboratory will be implemented in schools and technical colleges across the Midwest this fall semester. Instructors completed training for these courses this week at Gateway Technical College in Sturtevant, Wisconsin. Students who complete these courses will be eligible for industry certifications.

For more information on the training resources used in the lab, visit LAB Midwest.