With more and more manufacturing jobs turning over to technology, students need to be better trained in subjects like robotics. That's why University of Idaho and Eastern Idaho Technical College have partnered to create the new Manufacturing and Robotics Laboratory. Tuesday, the schools cut the ribbon to the first robot in the lab.
The robot has been programmed by two University of Idaho students as part of their senior projects.
"I was assigned to find a space, take the robot, get it set up, and get it oriented to where we can have students come in, said Duke Henningsen, a University of Idaho senior studying Industrial Technology.
"It could be used for assembling bolts or piece of equipment, some of these have attachments where you can use it for welding," said Henningsen.
The robot sits is a small room in what looks like a warehouse. That warehouse has been slowly transformed to the new lab space, and will eventually become a full classroom.
"We are in a storage area that we received Department of Public Works funding to clean up and restore," said Ken Erickson, workforce training division manager for EITC.
"(The) robot is the first piece of equipment, we expect to get 5 more pieces this spring," said Lee Ostrom, Associate Dean of the College of Engineering at U of I.
Access to new technology is critical for students heading in to the manufacturing world.
"It's not the people dressed up in overalls and greasy. Manufacturing is going to have a different look than it did a few years ago," said Cheryl Wilhelmsen, director of industrial technology for U of I.
While Idaho and EITC students will be the first to benefit, the goal is to also open up the space to high school classes.
"We hope also that at some point it can become a user facility, so if a small manufacturer needs expertise in a piece of equipment, they can gain that expertise here," said Ostrom.
The Boeing Company donated five robots to University of Idaho. The other four are in Moscow.