Collaborative robots in the classroom deliver hands-on learning
RAMTEC Career Center in Ohio is home to the largest, most comprehensive robotics education center in the U.S. In order to increase the number of skilled manufacturing employees to meet future market needs, the school is now training students ranging from middle school to industry professionals with collaborative robots from Universal Robots.
RAMTEC located in the manufacturing hub of Marion, Ohio, receives input from a large group of industry representatives involved in shaping its curriculum. When local companies started installing collaborative robots – RAMTEC took note.
“We did some research and realized that Universal Robots had one of the best collaborative robots on the market. We always want to stay ahead of where manufacturing is going to ensure that when our students leave this facility, they can use the equipment adapted by industry,” says Ritch Ramey, RAMTEC coordinator overseeing robotics training at the nine Tri-Rivers career centers in Ohio that RAMTEC is the flagship member of. RAMTEC’s goal is to bridge the looming skills gap estimated at 2 million unfilled manufacturing jobs in the U.S. by 2020.
The Universal Robots at RAMTEC are now used to teach many different skill sets:
“It’s like peeling an onion; we can bring it down and present it to 5th graders who can start programming within a few minutes. Or take it into a high school setting and have the students do more advanced motion controls. - Or we can teach it in the adult classroom with many of our local manufacturers interested in having their employees up to speed on programming their own UR robots,” says Robotics instructor at RAMTEC, Clay Hammock. “It’s really easy to do with the Universal as opposed to some of the other robots on the market right now. Especially with all the free online resources such as the free training modules in UR Academy and the simulator that the students can download and practice on at home.”
The UR robots’ built-in safety system enables the robot arm to automatically stop operating if it encounters objects or people in its route. That’s an important aspect in a classroom setting according to Clay Hammock: “The beauty of the UR is that I don’t have to worry about any of my students getting injured when programming a real industrial robot. I can give a quick demo and let them experiment on their own.”
Not having to build expensive safety cages around each robot also means affordability, says Ritch Ramey who sees cobots in the classroom as the future of education in robotics. “By not having to fence off the robot, we can buy a couple Universal Robots for the price we can buy an industrial robot with a safety cage,” says the robotics coordinator emphasizing the flexibility now also achieved:
“We can move them around the room between tasks as there are so many things a student can do with a Universal Robot that still fits into the industrial robotics model of education that we need.”
RAMTEC (Robotics & Advanced Manufacturing Technology Education Collaborative).
RAMTEC has about 100 high school students enrolled per year and approximately 200 industry professionals doing adult training at the center annually.
RAMTEC is Ohio’s state-of-the-art facility designed to train and certify students on robots, CNC machines, Welding and industrial maintenance equipment so that unfilled jobs across the state that require a highly skilled workforce can be fulfilled. The center opened in 2012 as an innovative collaboration between Tri-Rivers Career Center, Marion Technical College and The Ohio State University at Marion.
Hands-on robot programming skills, including application level tasks such as machine tending and PLC networking through Ethernet IP. Students also learn to make customized, 3D printed grippers for the UR robots, using the online schematics of the robots’ face plates.
Automation Challenges Solved:
Met local industry demand for educating workforce on collaborative robots.
Key Value Drivers:
Easy programming, fast setup, collaborative and safe, short payback period, flexible deployment.