Skills in Industrial Automation: PLC

School of Engineering

Skills in Industrial Automation: PLC


Time Commitment
35 hours
Course Dates
October 16 – November 17
Enrolment Period
August 2 - October 27, 2023

Sign Up for Updates

An image of industrial automation equipment with a close up of a mouse and 3D printer

About this Course

This micro-credential is an introduction to Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), which are the brains of most modern industrial control systems. The training will include asynchronous lecture videos on the theory of PLCs and PLC programming as well as in-person lab (hands-on) components. Learners will have the opportunity to design and implement control algorithms on lab-scale production systems available in the UBC Okanagan Industry 4.0 teaching lab. The course is based on the IEC 61131-3 programming languages which are industry standard among the major brands of PLCs and learners will gain experience with the Siemens TIA Portal development environment to program Siemens S7-1500 PLCs. Human-machine interfaces (HMIs) and digital twinning will also be covered in this course.


After completing this course, learners should be able to:

  • Explain at a high-level a PLC automation system and its key components
  • Understand the basic operation and architecture of a PLC
  • Create and simulate PLC programs involving basic and specialty blocks written in LAD, FBD, and SFC
  • Understand the basic functions and troubleshooting tools available in a PLC IDE
  • Use a PLC IDE and digital twin simulation tool to create and test an automation project. This course uses Siemens PLCs, PLCSIM Advanced, and CIROS
  • Create and simulate HMIs
  • Apply their knowledge to various automation applications with a focus on manufacturing production systems and pick-and-place robots”

Who This Program is For:

  • Technicians or engineers with an interest automation and manufacturing
  • Plant or facility managers with a technical background
  • Post-secondary or graduate students looking to break into the world of industrial automation


  • To succeed in this course, learners should have some experience with at least one computer programming language.
  • The content is designed for adult learners; participants must be 18 years or older.
  • The language of instruction is English.

Program Costs

Standard Fee: $1,600.00 (GST included)

Program Courses and Dates

Course Schedule:

Blended, Self and Group-Paced

  • October 16 – November 13: Online, Self-Paced
    • Learners gain access to the online, self-paced portion of the course through the UBCO Canvas Catalog learning management system.
    • Learners must complete approximately 8 hours of self-paced learning prior to the in-person portion which begins on Nov. 14.
  • November 14 – 17: In-Person, Group-Paced
    • Learners must participate in 15 hours of in-person lab activities at UBCO.
    • In-person attendance is optional on Nov. 16.

How this Program is Delivered

Delivery Mode:

Topics covered in this micro-credential include:

  • Hardware components for industrial automation
  • Automation circuits
  • Operating principles of PLCs and PLC architecture
  • Ladder diagram (LAD) and Sequential Function Chart (SFC, or GRAPH) programming
  • Specialty programming blocks
  • Human-machine interfaces (HMIs)

This course is an estimated 35-hour commitment and delivered using a blended model. The online portion will be self-paced with learners gaining access to 10 hours of lecture videos and completing assessments as they progress through the content. For the hands-on portion of the course, learners will be in-person in the UBCO Industry 4.0 teaching lab for a total of 15 hours. The remaining hours are devoted to assessment and self-study.

The assessments in this course include online quizzes, lab demonstrations, and a final exam. Learners will have multiple opportunities to demonstrate their competency in the course topics but must earn 70% in the course overall to earn the micro-credential. Two optional external exams through NC3/Festo will be available to students who are successful in this course.

Technology Requirements:

  • Learners should have the required technology to access and participate in online learning and assessment. These include stable internet connection, a webcam, a microphone, and a computer.
  • The computers used by the learners should be of a processor greater than 2.0 GHz and a RAM of 4.0 GB or greater.

Course Materials:
All materials required for this course will be provided within UBCO’s Canvas Catalog. Resources for self-study and further learning will be provided upon completion of the micro-credential.

Program Instructors

Dr. Richert (PhD, PEng)
Assistant Professor of Teaching and chairs the Manufacturing and Mechanical Programs at the School of Engineering at UBC Okanagan. Industry experience as an Algorithms Engineer for ASML, a supplier of lithography machines for semi-conductor manufacturing. Over 6 years of experience as an Engineering Educator and was a leader in establishing the Industry 4.0 teaching lab at UBCO.

The instructional team also includes teaching assistants who will support the hands-on lab activities.

Credential Awarded

Upon successful completion of all program requirements, learners are awarded a UBC Okanagan Letter of Proficiency (a non-credit credential).

The credential is provided in paper format. Learners will also receive a verifiable digital badge (which has descriptive metadata about the learning achievement) for sharing through digital channels.

Eligible to write two industry-based certifications exams (Fundamentals of PLCs – Siemens, and Festo: Applied PLCs – Siemens).

Last updated: 2024-06-12 11:43

Back to CPE Courses & Programs