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Automation and Controls

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Get hands-on experience with state-of-the-art tools.

This introductory noncredit course in Industrial Automation will specifically focus on the use of Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) for manufacturing and process control. You will learn the basics of PLC operation, interfacing PLCs to sensors and actuators and programming PLCs for basic control tasks. Topics covered in the lectures will be put to use and reinforced by a series of hands-on lab exercises using state-of-the-art Allen-Bradley PLC controllers and Rockwell PLC programming software.

Registration is now closed.

About the instructor

Dr. Robert Klenke is a Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at VCU. Dr. Klenke's research interests include system-level modeling and hardware/software codesign for complex, embedded digital systems. His recent research work has been concentrated in the area of digital flight control systems and payload data systems for unmanned aerial vehicles. In 2015, Dr. Klenke developed the first course in Industrial Automation to be taught at VCU. This course has been supported by generous donations from Rockwell Automation and several local industries. In 2016, a second, advanced course was added to the sequence. Thus far, over 100 VCU engineering undergraduates and graduate students have taken the Industrial Automation courses.

Dr. Klenke received his BSEE degree from the Virginia Military Institute in 1982 and his MSEE and Ph.D. (Electrical Engineering) degrees from the University of Virginia in 1989 and 1993 respectively. He joined the faculty in the Department of Electrical Engineering at VCU as an Associate Professor in 1998. Dr. Klenke led the efforts to develop computer engineering as a separate degree program in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering which was first ABET accredited in 2005. He has over 35 years of combined military, education, and consulting experience in engineering and has published over 85 refereed papers and book chapters.

What to expect

Your program registration fee of $3,495 includes instruction, all necessary materials, parking on the VCU campus, a snack break and meal at each session, an optional 4.00 CEUs (at no additional cost if chosen at the time of registration), and a framed Certificate of Completion. VCU Alumni can enter promo code ALUMNI to Save 10%.

Who should attend

This course is intended for engineers, technicians or supervisors who work in the area of industrial automation, but do not have in-depth knowledge of PLCs, including how they are deployed, programmed or operated. A degree in engineering is helpful, but not required. You should have a working knowledge of basic electrical fundamentals, such as voltage, current, AC, DC, etc. and basic skills in the area of computer programming. Fundamental computer skills, including working with programs that have an extensive Graphical User Interface is also required.

Cancellation and Refund Policies

You may cancel your registration up until 7 days prior to the course start date, and receive a full refund minus any credit card processing fees. Cancellations must be received via email at In the unlikely event that this program is cancelled or postponed due to insufficient enrollments or unforeseen circumstances, the university will fully refund registration fees, but cannot be held responsible for any other expenses, including change or cancellation charges to include but not limited to airlines, hotels, travel agencies, or other organizations.

Want to find out more? Get in touch.