Fairfield County Workforce Center hosts the Totally Tech-Bot robotics camp

Published: August 11, 2022 Author: Chloe Musick

As the fourth industrial revolution, known as “Industry 4.0,” continues to flourish, creating a learning environment that excites students and exposes them to new manufacturing technologies has become increasingly more important. 

The Fairfield County Workforce Center (FCWC) is a collaborative facility shared by Ohio University and Hocking College designed to train both students and professionals in skilled trades. The FCWC is home to the latest advanced technology, including industrial robots, robotic vision systems, programmable logic controllers, mechatronic trainers and other advanced manufacturing equipment. Students enrolled in the Engineering Technology program engage with this equipment every day to hone their skills in manufacturing. 

While the students were home for the summer, the FCWC hosted the Totally Tech-Bot (TTB) robotics camp. TTB camp was a free camp open to students in the sixth to eighth grades. The camp created hands-on opportunities for middle school students to engage with the latest equipment used in modern manufacturing.

“The camp was divided into robotics, led by a Hocking College instructor, and manufacturing and engineering technology, led by me. I set up labs for the campers to do and, to my surprise, they picked up on everything so fast,” Trevor Warfield, assistant professor of instruction at Ohio University’s Lancaster Campus, said.

Middle school student using programmable logic controller
Middle school students from around the region enjoyed working on different projects at the Totally Tech-Bot robotics camp.

Throughout the academic year, Warfield teaches in the Engineering Technology program. In this program, students can earn their associate in applied science degree focused on developing their technical skills to succeed in the manufacturing industry. 

“My style of teaching is like a mentorship. I like to embed myself in the class. We work together while the students do their labs. This program is very hands-on, and we embrace learning by doing. The more hands-on students are, the better off they are in the workforce,” Warfield said. 

Warfield maintained his approach to teaching when middle school students came to the FCWC for TTB camp. Just like the students enrolled in the Engineering Technology program, the campers got to explore the manufacturing equipment, such as a human machine interface (HMI), by solving real world problems. 

“My plan was to set up a traffic light and the campers had to program a traffic light pattern using the HMI. We taped a mock intersection onto the floor at the FCWC, so everyone understood the timing and function of a traffic light. Then they had to work together to write the code — and they did it.” Warfield said. 

Two separate one-week camps gave the campers many opportunities to explore the world of robotics and automation. Camp culminated in a Family Day, where each camper presented a piece of training equipment, how to use it and its significance in the manufacturing process. This was also an important opportunity for both the campers and the instructors to communicate the value of their new technical skills to their parents. 

Middle school students at robotics camp
Students explored the world of robotics and automation at the Totally Tech-Bot robotics camp at the Fairfield County Workforce Center.

“Skilled trade work, such as manufacturing, is in high demand right now. Factories all over Ohio need skilled workers and this is a unique skilled trade resulting in a great job with great pay,” Warfield said. “It is important that we get our youth excited about the future of this industry.”

Beyond the Totally Tech-Bot robotics camp, the Fairfield County Workforce Center is home to for-credit engineering technology courses, as well as non-credit workforce development training courses. Learn more about the Engineering Technology program at OHIO’s Lancaster Campus at this website. Learn more about the Fairfield County Workforce Development Center at this website