By Charlotte Weber
The world of robotics is no longer the stuff of science fiction. Lower cost, affordable and adaptable robotic systems now are within reach of smaller and mid-sized companies.
More and more U.S. manufacturers are realizing the benefits and opportunities that robots can provide. They are also realizing the workforce of tomorrow is growing up in the “robot” world, the Ironman era, the world of technology. They understand how automation and innovation can -- and are -- changing the way we do and make everything.
Many of the benefits of this technology trend are incorporated in the fifth annual celebration of National Robotics Week (April 6-13).
The week is designed to:
* celebrate the U.S. as a leader in robotics technology development;
* educate the public about how robotics technology impacts society, both now and in the future;
* advocate for increased funding for robotics technology research and development; and
* inspire students of all ages to pursue careers in robotics and other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics-related fields.
Another cause for celebration related to this new wave of automation and innovation is the role that robotics is having in reshoring -- bringing jobs back to this country from abroad.
American innovation and ingenuity are giving rise to a surge in the “Made In America” trend. It all makes sense again, from K-12 and beyond. Robotics are cool, and robotics are helping to reshape American manufacturing.
West Virginia’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center, the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI), is teaming with FANUC Robotics America Inc. to establish robotics training here in the Mountain State. The training, designed for students and adults alike, is being provided in partnership with Mountwest Community and Technical College.
The courses offered include Introduction to Robotics; Robot Safety; Robot Components; End Effectors; Applications for Robots; Robot Sensors; Concepts of Robot Operations & Programming; Robotic Drives; Hardware and Components, and Robot Installations.
The training consists of interactive online lessons, lectures, demonstrations and lab exercises with hands-on experience using industrial robots and simulation software.
This summer, in partnership with the June Harless Center at Marshall University, RCBI again will offer a 3D Printing and Robotics Camp for middle to high school students in the Huntington area.
The way for the United States to stem the tide of jobs lost overseas and to help restore its economy and work to bridge the skills gap is by investing in manufacturing technologies that make U.S. companies more competitive in the world market. Robotics stands high on that list of technologies.
To learn about robotics training opportunities available at RCBI, go to www.rcbi.org.
Charlotte Weber is director and CEO of the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing (RCBI).