BC’s Industrial Automation Day


Pepper the robot in Professor Manuel Fernandez’s class of Applied Science and Technology, she was built for the purpose of being able to “replace a lot of tasks for people like receptionists, security,” he described.

Aubrianna Martinez, Senior Digital Editor

The overpour of rain that Bakersfield saw did little to slow down the approximately 500 people attending and staffing the Industrial Automation day showcase that Bakersfield College’s new Industrial Automation program put together on April 22nd.

While originally the day’s events were to start at the outdoor theater, the night before the day’s events the plan changed due to the weather forecast, and the day’s staffers transitioned seamlessly to holding the breakdown for the itinerary and introducing the administrators for the program inside the gymnasium.

Program manager Carlos Medina walked the high school students in attendance through the basics of the industrial automation major that is offered at BC, while his colleagues spoke on the specifics of their respective departments.

Thomas Rush, professor of electronics explained the program for attendants. “What is industrial automation? […] Industrial automation uses computers as control systems using information technology for handling different processing machines– the purpose is to relieve people of mundane and routine tasks so we can do more skilled activities,” he said.

“Our goal here has been to provide local and state industries with graduates because we need more people with skill.” Rush explained how the industries give notice of the skills that they need their new hires to possess, and this directly influences the program by influencing the classes taught. 

He continued that their work locally is a prime opportunity, “The Central Valley is a large base manufacturing business facilities. […] Facilities like warehousing, agricultural and food processing, aerospace, energy, petroleum, renewables. These companies need technical staff that can work the management. […] We’re going to be the intermediary, the expert in craft, and we’re going to be able to talk to managers and other people and be that bridge,” Rush said.

Anthony Cordova, dean of instruction, spoke briefly about the advantages of the program from a purely financial perspective, explaining and reiterating points mentioned by Rush earlier, such as that pursuing a bachelor’s degree in industrial automation at BC will cost less than $10,000.

“Our students that graduate from the program start out making $70,000 a year,” he emphasized.

Counselor for the program Cynthia Quintanilla spoke at length about the specifics of enrolling into the program, “Anyone can join the program, […] we have enough room to allow many students into the program.”


She continued, “We like to call it a stackable program because not only can you get the bachelor’s degree–and I know all of you that are in high school are going through four years of school, and it takes four years before you graduate–but with our program we have certificates, we have associates degrees along the way before you get your bachelor’s degree.”

Doug Waterman from CMTC, California’s Manufacturing Network spoke from his experience in the field of industrial automation, and ended his speech thusly, “I envy this generation. You lot are going to go to space and you guys are going to go to planets,” he stated. 

Medina mentioned the robotic dog that industrial automation students are currently working on repairing named Spot. “When you guys are students you guys will be able to play with Spot–I mean work with Spot,” he joked.

Students were taken on tours of the various industrial automation class labs on campus and given large amounts of information on the work done in each of the rooms by the faculty, were able to interact with Pepper the robot, and then were able to tour the rest of BC’s campus.

Rush mentioned some of the companies that are on the advisory board for the program and are graduates who are hired after finishing their schooling, “Target, Dreyer’s Ice Cream, Tasteful Selections, […] Grimmway Farms, […] Frito-Lay, Wonderful, Bolthouse, […] there’s plenty of opportunities and we can’t get enough graduates to these companies and we want Bakersfield College to be the prime candidate–we want you guys to be their first pick and not have them bring someone down to the Central Valley,” he stated.