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Robotics degree sees growth through grants and student creativity

Dave Hartup and a student.
Dave Hartup teaches in the new robotics degree program.

Robotics degree sees growth through grants and student creativity

Dave Hartup teaches in the new robotics degree program.

The College of Engineering and Computing at Miami University continues to assess workforce needs to upgrade the existing curriculum and introduce new degree programs.

One such program is the new Bachelor of Science in Robotics Engineering, the only four-year degree program in Ohio. Miami is also revamping its manufacturing engineering curriculum to align with Industry 4.0.

According to Beena Sukumaran, Dean of the College, the new degree in robotics engineering “provides students with the necessary background to serve in any industry, which is increasingly relying on robotics and automation.”

She added that “the manufacturing sector will have 4.6M manufacturing jobs to fill from 2018-2028, according to a 2018 Skills Gap Study by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute.”

This year, Miami University was awarded a $308,750 grant from the Ohio Department of Higher Education to advance manufacturing in the region, including robotics.

Through the Regionally Aligned Priorities in Delivering Skills (RAPIDS) grant, Miami will focus on developing more course offerings in smart manufacturing, an industry concept that combines advanced and additive manufacturing, robotics, and other technologies.

Qihou Zhou, professor and chair of Miami’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said, “The equipment to be purchased through the grant will significantly augment our existing facilities. The grant will train students to meet workforce needs in the critical areas of robotics and advanced manufacturing.”

Dave Hartup, who teaches in the program was part of the grant team. He touts the early successes, including entusiastic students who created a new robotics club. More than 30 students have now been certified in Fanuc robotic systems.

One creative example of students applying their knowledge features two robots, complete with moveable arms demonstrating their talents. The robots throw balls and dance to the university's fight song.

With new funding, the program allowed the department to obtain 6 industrial robots and smart manufacturing equipment and develop courses specifically for robotics engineering.

 The robotics degree is housed in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.