July 5, 2023
LEBANON, Ind. - The Vincennes University Gene Haas Training and Education Center was buzzing with Indiana educators taking in all the amazing things collaborative robots can do.
To help career and technical education teachers and Early College faculty from across the state discover the benefits of the emerging technology, VU hosted a Collaborative Robotics Showcase on June 28 in Lebanon.
The showcase was a unique opportunity for high school instructors to learn more about training the skilled workers of tomorrow and the pivotal role cobots play in moving Indiana businesses and industries forward. The event brought together CTE instructors, VU faculty and staff, and employees of the Carmel, Indiana-based Telamon Robotics.
VU leads the largest cobot educational project in the United States. The University has an arsenal of 42 cobots at the Center for Applied Robotics and Automation on the Vincennes Campus, VU Jasper Campus, Gene Haas Training and Education Center, and partner high schools, all supported by an $8 million Lilly Endowment Inc. grant.
“True to its trailblazing traditions, Vincennes University has brought to the state of Indiana the largest collaborative robotics educational initiative of the nation with state-of-the-art equipment and courses designed to prepare students, professionals, and companies alike for the digital manufacturing era that is upon us,” Director of the Center for Applied Robotics and Automation Paulo Dutra e Mello said. “In its latest phase, VU’s program is now selecting high schools and CTEs to take part of this initiative that will cement Indiana’s position as a leader in advanced manufacturing for years to come with well-paid professionals, thriving businesses, and communities.”
According to a recent survey report by Conexus Indiana and the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, 51 percent of Indiana manufacturers expect to adopt cobots in the next five years.
The showcase featured cobots performing various tasks, including welding, stacking boxes, and loading and unloading a machine.
The demonstrations impressed River Forest High School Industrial Maintenance and Industrial Arts Teach Karl Pineda.
He envisions students learning to program cobots and preparing for jobs of the future.
“I saw a lot of opportunities for young students to get involved in the manufacturing industry,” Pineda said. “I saw huge advantages of cobots and automating processes. I can see VU’s investment with cobots will deliver good results to Indiana and the U.S. economy.”
Cobots are an extension of a human worker more so than a replacement. They perform repetitive and mundane work in a shared space while humans execute the more complicated tasks. The advanced technology is used in various industries, including manufacturing, medical, and aviation, and can create new jobs.
"You are looking at the future," said Area 31 Career Center Precision Machining Instructor Greg Hill.
He sees cobots and demand for new skills as opportunities for students to gain an edge in today’s competitive career landscape.
“This is another way of increasing a worker’s worth,” Hill said. "Your employability goes up.”
To learn more about VU bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, and certificates in addition to Early College, visit vinu.edu.
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