Raising robot literacy: How cobots are being used in education
Cobots are shaping the education industry by giving students the opportunity to learn about robotics first hand. Within interactive learning environments, students are introduced to automation and industrial applications, mastering robot programming in minutes.
To further lower the automation barrier, Universal Robots has developed the Universal Robots Academy, an e-learning program containing six modules designed to maximize user engagement.
CTO and founder of Universal Robots, Esben Østergaard, explains that it is unusual in the industry to make robot training curriculum of this kind available for free.
“But this is a long-term investment for us. We want to raise the robot literacy and the reason for speeding up the entry of cobots is not only to optimize production here and now,” says Østergaard. “We are facing a looming skills gap in the manufacturing industry that we need to bridge by all means possible. Facilitating knowledge creation and access to our robots is an important step in that direction. We’re excited to see the educational sector actively incorporating the Academy modules in their curriculum.”
The Universal Robots Academy contains six free online modules, is open to everybody, and available in English, Spanish, German, French and Chinese.
A powerful learning tool
One of the schools now using the e-learning modules is the RAMTEC Career center in Ohio.
“The Academy modules are amazingly simplistic in their approach yet cover all the necessary building blocks that you need to complete basic UR robot training,” says Tim Gray, Industrial Training Coordinator at RAMTEC. “It’s a much easier curriculum to access than any other training materials I’ve come across; in hours you can learn what it would take weeks to accomplish with other robots. The fact that training material of this caliber is offered free of charge was a surprise to me. We can use it both in the classroom and as tool for self-study.”
Clayton Hammock, robotics teacher at RAMTEC said the other free online resources on the UR website such as the simulator has become a very powerful tool in his class.
How collaborative robots/cobots are being used in education a solution by Festo.
“Everybody learns differently and some of the students want to go through and practice it at home many times. So even if we don’t have enough robots, we always have enough simulators,” says Hammock, adding that the simulator is also used as an assessment tool.“In this way a lot of the programming actually happens outside the classroom, when we come into the classroom we can then focus on some of the more special things like integrating the robots with external machinery.”
“I programmed a robot mom and dad!”
In this video from the tradeshow IMTS in Chicago, Festo Didactic, a world-leading provider of equipment and solutions for technical education, shows how a UR robot has been integrated into their Mechatronics Training System, delivering hands-on programming experience.
According to Festo Didactic, there is a great demand now for using cobots in education due to their flexibility, easy programming, and the fact that they’re safe to use in a classroom setting. The company is now introducing its cobot training system in high schools, vocational schools, and community colleges.
“By doing the lead-through programming and not having to invest a lot of time in learning code, getting something working within a few minutes—that excites students and gets them into the process of learning this technology,” said Ted Rozier, Engineering Development Manager with Festo Didactics.
“When the students walk away they have not only seen something that is very cool, but they actually have a skillset. They can say mom and dad I programmed a robot and it was on the Universal platform!”