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Cobots hit the classrooms with federal, state, industry recognition

Two major recognitions of Universal Robots' education programs from the U.S. federal Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute (ARM) and the State of Ohio's Department of Education pave the way for schools and industry to further leverage cobots, offering employability in robotics careers while upskilling the existing workforce.

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 (or "cobots") in today's manufacturing processes and in classrooms. UR is the first robotics manufacturer to be selected for ARM's new Endorsement Program after 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 onward).

"These endorsements mean the world to schools hoping to introduce hands-on cobot courses in their classrooms," says Channel Development Manager at Universal Robots, Corey Adams. "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. It gives schools confidence that they are not only offering students a diploma but also an instant career path."

Since introducing the world's first commercially viable collaborative robot (cobot) in 2008, UR has developed a product portfolio including the UR3e, UR5e, UR10e, and UR16e, reflecting a range of reaches and payloads. Each model is supported by a wide range of end-effectors, software, accessories, and application kits in the UR+ ecosystem. This allows the cobots to be used across a wide range of industries and means that they can be flexibly redeployed across diverse tasks. The company, which is part of Teradyne Inc., is headquartered in Odense, Denmark, and has offices in the USA, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic, Romania, Russia, Turkey, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Mexico. Universal Robots has installed over 50,000 cobots worldwide.

Support from major industries
In order 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," says Adams who is actively working with numerous states in obtaining educational credentials.

The Department of Defense-sponsored ARM Institute is a 300+ 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, the ARM Institute's national workforce capability that connects education seekers with training for manufacturing careers.

ARM conducted rigorous audit
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 says. "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," says 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, explains how the college is now 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 cobots. "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 says. "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 offered the free webinar "Developing Tomorrow's Engineers Today: An Educational Program Focused on Automation Competencies" on Nov. 2, co-hosted with The Robot Report. The webinar will be presented again on Nov. 10 with the Association for Advancing Automation (A3).

About Universal Robots Educational Robotics Training Program
The curriculum was created to provide a student-focused, hands-on instruction with a blended (in-class and hands-on) delivery that includes student-based projects, expanded training on interconnectivity, and a clearly defined pathway for students to pursue an Advanced Manufacturing / Robotics Industry 4.0 career. The program integrates Employability skills, Project Management, Problem Solving, and Critical Thinking skills with the UR Robotics I4.0 Environment. The program aligns with ARM Model, RIA Compliancy, and National Credentialing.

Source: Universal Robots

Published November 2021

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