Students to Test Their Skills in Competition Hosted by Festo, Didactic, SICK, and Siemens at IMTS 2022

The four-day event will also include guest lecture Thorsten Wuest, associate professor for smart manufacturing at West Virginia University.

Festo Didactic said it "designs and implements training centers and labs, as well as learning systems and training programs for technical professions."
The competition will take place during the popular tradeshow and features lessons on robot risk assessments, in-depth data collection, and more.

Festo Didactic, Siemens and SICK Safety are teaming up at this year’s International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago. The trio say they are building awareness around the exciting advancements taking place in industry and technical education.

They are hosting a special learning competition at the Smartforce Student Summit to inform and excite young people about the future of manufacturing. Students include two high school students from Monmouth County Vocational School District, New Jersey, three apprentices from Airbus Americas Training Center, Florida, one apprentice from Vaya Space, Cocoa, Florida, and two vocational students from Baden-Württemberg Germany

The event will take place at Booth #215000 — North Building, Level 1 from Sept. 12-17, 9:30 am – 3:00 pm. An award ceremony will be held on Thursday, Sept. 15 at 2:30 p.m. in the Smartforce Theater.  

Festo Didactic, an education company with deep roots in manufacturing automation, said it uses its industry expertise to offer a wide range of learning solutions that support skills development in all aspects of mechatronics and factory automation.

The Industry 4.0 skills competition

Festo, SICK Safety and Siemens said they have partnered to bring this competition to life, aligning with the Florida Space Coast Consortium Apprenticeship Program (SCCAP). To reflect the industrial evolution from Industry 3.0 to Industry 4.0, the competition will begin with students learning basic skill sets in mechatronics, including but not limited to: mechanical, fluid power, electronic and software-controlled components.

Phase 1 of the competition will be carried out on the Festo MecLab which introduces industrial automation to students. Students will work in pairs and are required to assemble, integrate, and program components to create an automated system that’s capable of completing a specific task.

Programming will be done via FluidSIM software which will then assist students in the software interrogation of PLC coding via Siemens TIA portal within the 2nd phase of the competition.

Phase 2 will focus on troubleshooting an Industry 4.0 Cyber-Physical Lab training system that includes robotics. By reviewing theoretical content from the FESTO I4.Core Career pathway curriculum, The students will be motivated and prepared to troubleshoot real industrial advanced technology components that are tightly integrated such as PLC, HMI, MES. Augmented reality features as well as instructions via mobile devices will assist them in taking their commissioning skills into the 4th industrial revolution.

Phase 3 is where students will be tested on their ability to complete a risk assessment on the robotic system integrated into the cyber-physical training module. Festo and SICK created a Safety Awareness Bundle that combines curriculum and hardware. The content of the curriculum focuses on robot risk assessments, in-depth data collection and dissemination, as well as the implementation of the whole system approach versus automation à la carte (Industry 3.0).

Stefany Grugel, a teacher at the Advanced Manufacturing and Monmouth County Vocational School in New Jersey, will lead the student competition and daily training sessions. 

“If students only learn theory in the classroom, they won’t have what it takes to succeed in this industry,” Gurgel said. “That’s why apprenticeship programs and skills competitions like this one are so important.”

“They allow students and workers to learn by doing, which equips them with the competencies needed to hit the ground running once they get into a real manufacturing environment, or upskill to advance their career,” Gurgel added.

Overview of schedule and themes

Monday, September 12 - Islands of Automation (Industry 3.0) by Mike Nager of Festo

Festo MecLab Training System overview and FluidSIM overview

Tuesday, September 13 - System Approach to Automation by Dr. Thorsten Wuest of West Virginia University from 9:00 - 9:30 at Booth #215000

Students will combine all stations and troubleshoot

Wednesday, September 14 - Introduction to Industry 4.Core by Amanda Beaton of Siemens

Students will learn about cyber-physical stations from mechanical components - all the way to MES

Thursday, September 15 - Risk Assessment by Brian Sellars of SICK

Students will learn about the risk assessment system approach; and field sets calibration


Mike Nager, Festo Didactic

Amanda Beaton, Siemens

Bryan Sellars, SICK Safety

Steve Kane, Space Coast

Steve Cercone, Bluegrass Education

Safe Material Flow: Finding the right solution with SICK

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Festo Didactic said it "designs and implements training centers and labs, as well as learning systems and training programs for technical professions."

Robot Technologies