Since 2005, igus has been a major supplier sponsor of a variety of student robotics and engineering competitions. Now, as a part of their YES (Young Engineers Support) Program, they are celebrating National Robotics Week with their continued support of thousands of student engineers around the world.
The igus YES Program was founded as a way to foster the design ideas of students with a passion for engineering. With technical support and product donations, the YES Program is open to all students, from elementary to PHD, as well as their professors and mentors.
Since the inception of YES, igus has donated products to tens of thousands of students worldwide for projects including a record-setting solar car, a full scale submarine, a 3D pizza printer, and countless others. This year alone, igus has donated over 3,500 kits to students participating in the FIRST Robotics Competition, as well as providing support to other competitions including BEST, Botball, NASA Robotic Mining Competition, Formula SAE, and more.
To learn more about the igus YES Program, please visit www.igus.com/yes, or stop by the Rhode Island Robot Block Party 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 30, 2017, at Brown University’s Pizzatola Sports Center.
The manufacturing industry has a considerable employment hole to fill due to a looming skills gap. This is a daily fact we are coping with and are aware of. Here's a look from Shop Floor Automations Inc.
One of the best ways to combat this issue is by putting more emphasis on what a great industry it is for young people to enter. Since the younger generation loves lists, here is a top three list of reasons to give millennials on why manufacturing is a great career choice.
1. Well paying positions. According to the National Tooling & Machining Association (NTMA), those in a manufacturing-related job in America tend to make an average of $15,000 more per year than other job fields. This extra amount of money alone can pay for rent, a new car, or help to significantly pay off school or other related debts, while still having money left over each year. More money for vacations, or saving to get to retirement faster.
James Baker, CNC supervisor for Amarillo Gear in Texas, says he first got into machining because the pay would be beneficial for his growing family when he was younger. His appreciation for the field, however, has evolved past paychecks.
“It’s been 20 years in programming and 30 years in the machinist field,” Baker says, when asked about his career. “For me, it’s something I feel I’ll always do. It would take a lot for me to want to leave this field.”
The work is not only well paying, but rewarding. “The pay is good,” says Ben Molinar, an operations manager at GMI Group in Texas. “I get a lot of satisfaction knowing that I can turn a piece of raw materials into a finished product.”
2. Flexible work environment with a changing technological and social landscape. Machinist jobs are well known to have a casual dress code, which is usually comprised of thick t-shirts, jeans and hoodies, due to the work environments they expose themselves to. There are also lots of young machinists working today who have tattoos, piercings, and an overall unconventional look, which is completely fine with most manufacturing shop floor employers.
There is also the flexibility in being able to bring these skills to any manufacturing shop floor.
“I can go anywhere in the world and work,” Molinar says. “Because of my experience and background in machining, I have been able to work all around the globe.”
With the industry getting younger, it is also easier for people in this job field to not only find their niche community within the realm social media, but for employers to reach new talent via the platforms of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and beyond.
“Having a footprint online aside from just a website is crucial,” says Amanda Rosenblatt, marketing coordinator at Shop Floor Automations and a social media specialist. “You have middle school kids, high school teens, and college-aged young adults…attached to their devices and social media – we can reach them and show them this industry is a community.”
“More manufacturers realize that social media can help, not hinder, their marketing efforts,” says Marjorie Clayman, who is a director in B2B Client Services for Clayman & Associated LLC. “Like most things, though, social media is only as good as what your effort garners.”
3. Less time in school after high school, and you can often learn the trade during high school! While there is a serious need of resources for STEM learning (science, tech, engineering and math) for youth these days, there are some resources that can be highlighted as great examples.
For any classroom environment, it is highly recommended that educators check out the video platform called Edge Factor, which has an abundance of resources to let young people discover what they would like about working in this industry. There is also the Cardinal Manufacturing program from the Eleva-Strum School District – it’s a real machine shop high school kids can work in, and that school district also has a very progressive Digital Learning Initiative to keep these kids up to pace with current technology.
The great news is that to get a job in the manufacturing field working at a machine, a college degree is not necessary. Most employers will look for certifications, or may even offer an apprenticeship, to get new talent through the door. To gain certifications, there are online colleges, community colleges, and even vendors who offer these valuable certification learning resources, as well as the program Workshops for Warriors for military veterans.
Because of the financial freedom that working in manufacturing provides, it also gives those who go into the field a chance to continue their learning throughout their adult lives. “I was able to go back to school,” Baker says. “Now, I’m 52 years old and I’m still enrolled in continuing education for my career.”
What subjects are the best for young people to get started in, if they want to pursue a manufacturing career?
“The machine shop is where you actually use math, trigonometry, and algebra,” Baker says. “I can program, understand and axis machines, and live tool equipment. We have 35k programs online. It’s a big deal."
Throughout the years coverage of exoskeletons in our magazine has been basically on the medical side. First there this article on Vanderbilt’s development of the Indego, now a part of Parker Hannifin. I was lucky enough to get to witness Michael Gore, a T10 paraplegic stand and walk from this technology. Following that we looked at ReWalk’s motorized exoskeleton. Since then, the advancements have come at a rapid pace.
Ekso Bionics received an NIH grant for pediatric rehabilitation exoskeleton prototypes; Parker Hannifin furthered its investment in prosthetics by investing in Freedom Innovations; and then there’s the grants to universities for research to continue advancing the technology and applications.
- Joo H. Kim, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, is addressing those issues and has won a three-year, $539,176 National Robotics Initiative grant from the National Science Foundation to advance his research, which will have particular utility for those with disabilities affecting the lower limbs.
- Carnegie Mellon University’s Steve Collins and his collaborator Greg Sawicki at North Carolina State University have discovered a way to make humans more efficient at walking.
- Paralyzed from the waist down after a BMX accident, Steven Sanchez rolled into SuitX’s Berkeley, California, office in a wheelchair. A half-hour later he was standing and walking thanks to the Phoenix—a robotic exoskeleton now available for around $40,000.
- The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University has entered into a collaboration with ReWalk Robotics Ltd., to accelerate the development of the Institute’s lightweight, wearable soft exosuit technologies for assisting people with lower limb disabilities.
- The Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) introduced the world’s first infant exoskeleton, designed to help children with spinal muscular atrophy, a degenerative illness which affects one in ten thousand babies in Spain. Weighing 12 kilos, the apparatus is made of aluminum and titanium, and is designed to help patients walk, and in some cases for the first time. The technology, patented and licensed jointly by CSIC and its technology-based business unit, Marsi Bionics, is currently in the preclinical phase.
- In a major advance, researchers from Beihang University in China and Aalborg University in Denmark have designed a lower-limb robot exoskeleton – a wearable robot – that features natural knee movement to greatly improve patients' comfort and willingness to wear it for gait rehab.
So today we can add to that Lockheed Martin.
A release from company officials stated that eyeing a new generation of industrial and military exoskeletons, Lockheed Martin has licensed the bionic augmentation technology Dermoskeleton from B-Temia Inc.
Dermoskeleton, the basis for computer-controlled devices that can increase mobility and load-carrying capacity by counteracting overstress on the lower back and legs, and the company's technology license permits use of B-Temia technology to products for military, industrial, commercial, and first-responder applications.
"This technology offers a pathway to increased loadbearing and greater agility for our FORTIS industrial exoskeleton," says Glenn Kuller, advanced and special programs vice president at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "It can also help to solve existing limitations of powered exoskeletons for our military and first responders. We're excited about the potential we see here."
The FORTIS exoskeleton is an unpowered, lightweight exoskeleton that increases an operator's strength and endurance by transferring the weight of heavy loads from the operator's body directly to the ground. This is done through a series of joints at the hips, knees and ankles. This originated from Lockheed Martin's exoskeleton research to assist soldiers in carrying heavy equipment across long distances The same principles were applied to exoskeleton development for use in industrial settings.
Technology continues to amaze and advance at a quick pace.
U.S. manufacturing technology orders increased more than expected in February, up 19.6% from January, according to the latest U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders report from AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology. Orders were up 1.7% year over year.
“We anticipated an increase in orders after a soft January, but we are surprised by the strength of the February numbers,” says AMT President Douglas K. Woods. “What’s even more encouraging is the pickup wasn’t a spike related to any specific industry or region, but rather was broad-based – from Northeast to West as well as everything from aerospace to consumer products. This activity reinforces our projections for a full recovery in manufacturing technology orders by the end of the second quarter.”
While all regions reported growth, the Northeast grew by 41% led by the small arms and aerospace industries. Nationally, aerospace had the largest growth rate, more than doubling January’s total. There was also surprising strength reported in appliances; medical devices; and off-road and highway equipment. The February data is aligned with other key indicators of the manufacturing sector’s health. For example, every component of the March Purchasing Managers Index was up; the Federal Reserve’s manufacturing output data had its best back-to-back monthly increases in three years; and durable goods orders and housing starts climbed in February.
Orders for February 2017 totaled $300.51 million, up from January’s $251.36 million. USMTO is a reliable leading economic indicator as manufacturing companies invest in capital metalworking equipment to increase capacity and improve productivity.
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