One of the topics I think about is how to effectively leach technical theatre concepts using current technology. Then one day I stumbled across this site:
The site offers a variety of systems that teach motors, motor control, pneumatics and the like. I think this is an interesting idea, and while the purchased units are probably pricey, it seems that the learning labs could be recreated with products around. This has the added advantage that it would be customized to be the most appropriate for what the student would encounter in that environment, though care should be taken to create some unity to what a student may encounter after college.
From an educational point of view, using a tool such as this allows the use of multiple learning styles. This is important also in that topics such as automation, learning should be both hands-on and text based. Yet it is often difficult to do the lab portion. With units that incorporate the tools in small portable stations, this hands-on component may be easier to integrate into the curriculum.