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When schools educate students in mastering new technology, they look to validate that the hardware and software they use in the curriculum is relevant to companies employing graduates. Educational institutions also need to ensure that funding for acquiring the classroom technology is obtainable.
Two recent endorsements of Universal Robots’ (UR) products and educational curriculum awarded by ARM and the Ohio Department of Education offer schools that insight, emphasizing the importance of UR’s collaborative robots (cobots) in today’s manufacturing processes and in classrooms. UR is the first robotics manufacturer to be selected for ARM’s new Endorsement Program as ARM reviewed UR’s Educational Robotics Training program.
At the state level, Ohio becomes the first U.S. state to evaluate and add UR courses to its Industry-Recognized Credential List (where it sits at 6 credit points for the 2021-2022 school year and onwards).
“These endorsements mean the world to schools hoping to introduce hands-on cobot courses in their classrooms,” said Corey Adams, channel development manager, Universal Robots. “The educational legitimacy of UR cobots opens the door to applying for both expanded federal funding and in Ohio also state funding to acquire cobots. And it gives schools confidence that they are not only offering students a diploma but also an instant career path.”
Support from major industries
To make the Ohio Department of Education’s credentialed list, numerous companies in the state, including major Tier 1 automotive makers and home appliance manufacturers, vouched for the UR cobots, detailing how they use them on the shop floor and need an ever-expanding, educated workforce to deploy, program and operate them.
“Ohio is industry leading in recognizing manufacturing technology and we expect this to quickly cascade out to other states as well,” said Adams, who is actively working with numerous states in obtaining educational credentials.
The Department of Defense-sponsored ARM Institute is a 300-plus member organization that catalyzes robotic technologies and education solutions to strengthen the U.S. industrial base and secure U.S. manufacturing resiliency. ARM launched the Endorsement Program earlier this year in conjunction with RoboticsCareer.org, the ARM Institute’s national workforce capability that connects education seekers with training for manufacturing careers.
Brian Wilson chairs the Education and Workforce Advisory Committee at ARM and audited the UR Robotics Training Program.
“It’s a very rigorous audit that made it apparent that UR listened and adapted to industry needs,” he said. “There is a big push for cobots that are affordable, that can easily be redeployed in different applications, and that are for both the large enterprise but also for the entrepreneur. Our endorsement is not just an academic accreditation; we look at whether the program helps the industry educate the workforce they need right now.”
In the evaluation of the UR program, ARM stressed the ‘training of the trainer’ aspect that ensures the quality of the teaching. “It’s also a course that can be offered from high school to industry professionals,” said Wilson. “There are many on and off-ramps in the lifelong learning journey and UR figured out how to make people embark on that journey at different career stages.”
Ripple effect through supply chains
At the Columbus State Community College in Ohio, the director of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), Jeff Spain, said the college is building a mixed lab space for cobots that will focus on both professional development for manufacturing employees while also educating the next workforce generation to hit the ground running.
“With their reduced footprint and intuitive programming, cobots have been a major disruption to industrial automation and are within that Industry 4.0 sweet spot of technology solutions that we find that our local employers need funded education programs for,” he said. “When large companies endorse UR cobots, it has a ripple effect through the supply-chains as Tier 1-3 suppliers and other industries realize that here is a vetted, nimble technology, that we have found offers low risk.”
For educators, manufacturers and students seeking to learn more about UR’s educational program, the company is offering the free webinar “Developing Tomorrow’s Engineers Today: An Educational Program Focused on Automation Competencies” on November 2, co-hosted with The Robot Report, and on November 10 with the Association for Advancing Automation (A3).