By Jeff Kiessel, Asst. Managing Editor, Ludington Daily News; published Jul 24, 2023
VICTORY TWP. — A small contingent from Michigan Tech University was on the campus of West Shore Community College Monday installing a robotic arm in the college’s Tech Center.
The partnership between the two schools is designed for remote training and operations.
WSCC Vice President of Academics Mark Kenney said it is the hope of the college to be able to give hands-on robotics training without the need to come to the campus.
“The idea behind this is that people from really anywhere can log into this site and using the camera systems and the virtual teach pendant, they should be able to control the robot remotely,” he said. “We will have a lot of online curriculum and materials that they can work through to learn it rather than having to try to practice in a simulated environment. People can practice on the real thing.”
Kenney said people will be able to see the robot move here but they might be connecting remotely, which might be a great fit for a local employer that might want to do some training on the robotic arm.
“If people have a half-an-hour or an hour where they want to do some robotics training, (it could work),” he said. “Again we will have the materials online for them to work through — we will offer specific courses at WSCC as well — but they will be able to sign on and control a robot right there, without having to travel to campus.”
Kenney said as more and more industries are heading toward automation, the college wants to provide training on the basics of robotics.
“With the ability to ladder it into more advanced content for those that are interested, we will offer several courses at WSCC that will be part of a traditional degree program,” he said. “Those classes will provide a student with all the basics where if you went to work for one of our local factories and something went wrong you would have the knowledge to get it back up and running. You would understand the basics of how to program and jog the robot to do certain functions.
“Through our partnership with Michigan Tech University, there is a bachelors and masters degree that will provide students with even a great level of detail.”
Kenney said WSCC wanted to make this program is accessible to K-12 partners so if classes of high school students wanted to learn about this they would not have to travel to the campus any longer.
Kenney said this collaboration is five years in the making, and he is looking forward to the opportunities that this will create for Michigan Tech University and we are honored to be partnering with them.