The use of robotics is increasing at a dramatic rate in many industries, including the advanced manufacturing sector. However, employers have difficulty filling positions responsible for the operation and upkeep of robotics technology. This need is especially evident in rural areas that lack access to advanced equipment and high-quality training opportunities. To address these needs, the project will leverage the Mobile Simulation Laboratory, developed through previous NSF Advanced Technological Education grants, and laboratories at three Chippewa Valley Technical College campuses. Through these laboratories, the project will provide incumbent workers and students with access to state-of-the-art robotics technology and equipment. Modularized curricula and co-curricular activities will provide participants with the knowledge and skills required to obtain or maintain positions in the high-demand, high-skilled manufacturing/robotics industry. In addition to enhancing awareness of robotics in manufacturing, the project has the potential to support increased opportunities for high school students and undergraduates. It is anticipated this increase in awareness and opportunities will lead to increased enrollments in related postsecondary programs and subsequent entry into STEM careers. Through industry-informed curriculum development, a collaborative approach, innovative equipment and technology, and hands-on application of learning, the project can positively impact a wide variety of manufacturing stakeholders.
The project will: (1) prepare technicians for automated manufacturing and engineering through applied education of robotics processes and concepts, and (2) increase the capacity of rural secondary teachers to provide instruction in robotics operations. The project will draw on the expertise of regional industry leaders to provide incumbent workers and students at the secondary and postsecondary level with opportunities to gain understanding of the concepts at work in today's advanced manufacturing sector, as well as hands-on, practical experiences in robotics and advanced manufacturing. Project goals include: (1) preparation of technicians for automated manufacturing and engineering through applied education of robotics processes and concepts, and (2) increasing the capacity of rural secondary teachers to provide instruction in robotics operations. This project is funded by the Advanced Technological Education program that focuses on the education of technicians for the advanced-technology fields that drive the nation's economy.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.