Each student in the class operates the college’s miniature industrial robot arm simulators as well as the full-size industrial-duty robot arm by writing computer programs in two standardized robot programming languages. Additionally, students are developing their own robotics or automation-based projects so that the course gets them thinking about being innovative and doing research.
For many years, applied technology programs at CR have been teaching automation concepts including computer numerical control (CNC) machining and wood routing, rapid prototyping, computer aided drafting and design (CADD), and computer aided manufacturing (CAM). But this new introduction to industrial robotics course takes the concepts of automation to a new level. Students are programming and operating a state-of-the art Mitsubishi industrial robot arm that has been installed in a robotics training system developed by Ohio-based Rixan Associates.
The Rixan Flexmation II training system is a flexible teaching station that integrates an industrial-duty robot arm with pneumatic gripper, machine vision system, automatic parts conveyer belt for moving objects, and various sensors and switches.
The high-quality robotics training system at College of the Redwoods is designed so that a variety of lessons can be developed. Students in the course start out by simply moving objects from place to place by writing computer programs that cause the robot arm to manipulate the objects. This lesson is then expanded to include programming the system to sense variations in the objects, and these variations are used in a decision-making structure in the program. This lesson simulates, for example, sorting out defective machine parts and assembling the non-defective components into finished products, then moving the products to a staging area for shipping to the customer.
CR professor Mike Peterson is excited about how the students are reacting to the new technology in the manufacturing laboratory. “Students are very engaged in learning how to program robots, I can tell that there’s a strong sense of accomplishment when they see a powerful, automatic machine do what they planned for it to do.”
Many relevant career choices in industry and jobs of the future will involve some level of mechanical automation. College of the Redwoods is continually adapting to meet the needs of students that seek these technology careers.
For more information go to http://www.redwoods.edu/Departments/ManufacturingTechnology/
CR student using the miniature industrial robot arm simulator.