Collaborative robots in the classroom deliver hands-on learning
THE SHORT STORY
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.