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Engineering Technology and Management professors create opportunities in robotics for their students

Engineering Technology and Management (ETM) professor Zaki Kuruppalil and associate professor Paul Deering have earned certifications in robotics and automation to create more opportunities for their students.

Since summer 2021, Kuruppalil and Deering have been attending practical workshops, trainings and externships to earn their FANUC Certified Applied Robot Certifications. This certification will allow the ETM curriculum to be adjusted to better prepare students for careers in robotics and automation. More specifically, this certification will allow students to be trained and certified in the operation and theory behind FANUC robotics, which are high end robots that hold approximately 60 percent of the market in the U.S. 

“There is a huge demand for robotic applications because of manufacturing reshoring back to the US. Because of higher labor cost compared to competing economies, the viability of manufacturing in the United States demands higher productivity and greater throughput, which requires automation,” said Kuruppalil. 

This has created numerous opportunities for professionals holding different levels of automation knowledge including engineers, technicians and operators.

ETM students can currently learn about robotics programming, safety, and operation in their coursework through theory and hands on laboratory experience. With their earned instructor certifications, Deering and Kuruppalil can conduct FANUC theory and practical certification exams at OHIO and grant certification to the students, both in the two-year engineering technology program and the four-year engineering technology and management program. This credential, in addition to their degree, will demonstrate to employers that they are ready to excel as leaders and managers in engineering technology. 

As high-tech manufacturers, like the Intel Corporation, continue to move to Ohio, it is critical that OHIO students are equipped with the skills to succeed in these spaces. In fact, Intel awarded OHIO $3 million in grant funding to serve as the lead institution for the Appalachian Semiconductor Education and Technical (ASCENT) Ecosystem, which is a program that will create an inclusive workforce development and training program to cultivate the next generation of skilled technical professionals for Ohio’s emerging semiconductor industry. Through initiatives like the FANUC Certified Applied Robot Operator Certification, Bobcat students will continue to excel in the workforce through their hands on learning opportunities. 

“We want to adapt what we teach at the senior level and bring it to the sophomore and junior levels. We will teach the basics of robotics and low-level integration — how robots communicate with each other and other devices — earlier in the curriculum, so the senior level class is about high-level integration,” said Kuruppalil. 

Not only is the ETM curriculum changing to create more opportunities for students, but the changes are also in direct response to the present demands of the workforce as well as forecasts in manufacturing over the next decade. This forward-thinking allows for OHIO students to prepare for the future of manufacturing. 

Manufacturing is constantly evolving, so Kuruppalil and Deering plan to continue their education in automation to ensure their students will continue to have access to the latest knowledge in the field. Additionally, the ETM labs are currently equipped with three state-of-the-art FANUC robots and ten Mitsubishis, and they hope to continue to equip their labs with key equipment, allowing students to experience robotics through hands-on learning. They also purchased state-of-the-art simulation software so that the students can learn virtually before interacting with the actual robot.

“Both of us loved learning during this process. After all, it is fun to play with robots,” said Kuruppalil. 

January 20, 2023
Chloe Musick