University, Community College and Industry Partnership: Revamping Robotics Education to Meet 21st Century Workforce Needs
This proposal led by Michigan Technological University in cooperation with Bay de noc Community College intends to improve STEM education by capitalizing on the appeal of robotics. It also supports industry demand for well-trained specialists capable of programming, maintaining, and troubleshooting modern robots. Development of an advanced, industry-driven, hands-on educational curriculum in robotic automation will improve the quality of STEM education for electrical engineering technology students at two- and four-year institutions. The software that is being developed will be freely available for adaptation, which will allow robotics to be taught even when the purchase of industrial robots is not feasible. Faculty development will include extensive training and industrial certification in robotics and automation. Partnership with a leading robotics manufacturer creates an important ongoing link between academia and industry ensuring the curriculum is regularly updated to meet emerging needs. K-12 teacher seminars will introduce advances in technology to those who play a pivotal role in inspiring future generations of engineering technologists. New robotics courses and equipment obtained in the project will attract interest of K-12 teachers and students, while simultaneously advancing undergraduate learning. As a result of the project, engineering technologists will enter the workforce prepared to adapt to the complex and changing demands of a high-tech workplace.
Robotics is a valuable learning tool that can enhance overall STEM comprehension and critical thinking. The interdisciplinary construction of robots makes it a useful pedagogical tool for all STEM areas. The novelty of robotics is instrumental in attracting and recruiting diverse STEM students. In the classroom, a robotics platform advances students' understanding of both scientific and mathematical principles, develops and enhances problem-solving techniques, and promotes cooperative learning. There is also a strong need for industrial certification programs in robotics automation. The curriculum includes courses developed with the goal of providing students the occasion to configure and execute real-life, industry comparable, robotic scenarios with opportunity for certification. An external evaluator will contact industrial partners to verify that the curriculum effectively addresses industry needs. Student learning is being assessed using pre-test/post-test embedded testing methods. Evaluation methods focus on determining the effectiveness of course materials and instructional methods for the different student populations involved. Formative evaluation occurring during the course development and pilot stages is anticipated to inform adjustments for subsequent course offerings. Summative evaluation is anticipated to help determine how the project meets its objectives and document results for dissemination. The outreach portion of the project also entails evaluation when K-12 teachers, student camp participants and those involved at participating schools are surveyed to gauge impact. Project dissemination plans include a 2-day workshop for up to 12 faculty members. The goal of the workshop is to take the knowledge gained from curriculum development and the technical information gained from lab development, and combine it with robotics training to produce practical curriculum planning and strategies for developing courses similar to those piloted in this project.