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Preparing the Next Generation Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Using Collaborative Robots and Experiential Learning (Work in Progress)

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Pre-College Engineering Education Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

8

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/37597

Download Count

23

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Paper Authors

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Kenechukwu Churchill Mbanisi Worcester Polytechnic Institute Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-5871-3730

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Kenechukwu C. Mbanisi received the B.Eng. degree in electrical and electronic engineering from Covenant University, Nigeria, in 2013, and the M.S. degree in robotics engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), MA, USA in 2018. He is currently working towards the Ph.D. degree in robotics engineering from WPI, USA.
His research interests include shared autonomy, haptic feedback, human motion modeling, assistive navigation systems, and driver-vehicle interaction.

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Purvi Shah Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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Purvi Shah is an Associate Professor of Marketing at the Foisie Business School, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA, USA where she teaches strategy, research, and product management. She earned her MBA and Ph.D. from Texas Tech University, TX, USA. Her scholarly interests are focused on investigating “deletion” of products and brands by firms and “disposal” of products by consumers. Her research has been published in the IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, International Journal of Production Economics, Industrial Management and Data Systems, Journal of Brand Management, Journal of Consumer Affairs, Journal of Marketing Management, Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, and Marketing Education Review.

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Gbetonmasse B. Somasse Worcester Polytechnic Institute Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-1274-028X

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Gbetonmasse Somasse is a faculty member in the Department of Social Science and Policy Studies at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute where he also directs the Cape Town Project Center. He holds a Ph.D. in economics and a Master in statistics. His research interests are in applied econometrics, development economics, program evaluation, and higher education. In higher education, he is interested in student motivation, experiential learning, and critical reflection to promote active and more intentional learning. Previously, Somasse was a senior economist statistician at the Central Bank of West African States. He also served as a consultant for the UN Economic Commission for Africa, and the UNDP.

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Dhvani Gangadia Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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Michael A. Gennert Worcester Polytechnic Institute Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-3170-2190

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Michael A. Gennert is Professor of Robotics Engineering, CS, and ECE at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where he leads the WPI Humanoid Robotics Laboratory and was Founding Director of the Robotics Engineering Program. He has worked at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, the University of California Riverside, PAR Technology Corporation, and General Electric. He received the S.B. in CS, S.B. in EE, and S.M. in EECS in 1980 and the Sc.D. in EECS in 1987 from MIT. Dr. Gennert's research interests include robotics, computer vision, and image processing, with ongoing projects in humanoid robotics, robot navigation and guidance, biomedical image processing, and stereo and motion vision. He led WPI teams in the DARPA Robotics Challenge and NASA Space Robotics Challenge and is author or co-author of over 100 papers. His research has been supported by DARPA, NASA, NIH, NSF, and industry. He is a member of Sigma Xi, and a senior member of IEEE and ACM.

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Walter Towner Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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Torbjorn S. Bergstrom Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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Abstract

The ongoing widening skills gap in the manufacturing workforce threatens the growth and sustainability of the U.S. manufacturing sector and economy at large. Stakeholders, including educators, industry associations, policy-makers and manufacturing firms, are seeking avenues to bridge this gap by expanding the pipeline of future manufacturing talent.

In this paper, we describe the application and assessment of an after-school experiential learning program using collaborative robots to introduce middle school students to robotics and advanced manufacturing methods with a larger goal of generating a future career interest in these domains.

The program aimed to (1) enable students to build an understanding of fundamental concepts of collaborative robotics in manufacturing; (2) encourage students to develop interests and industry-relevant skills which would prepare them as the next generation advanced manufacturing workforce. A pedagogical approach and curriculum, grounded in experiential learning theory, was developed. It involved: (1) hands-on activities on programming and operating collaborative robots and manufacturing machine tools; (2) 2D and 3D design and modeling projects; (3) use of student instructors as mentors; and (4) reflection sessions, all in a team-oriented and collaborative environment.

A total of 16 middle (grades 7 and 8) school students participated in the pilot program for a duration of 7 weeks. Pre- and post-surveys were administered to evaluate the program’s impact on participants. From the preliminary survey results, students reported feeling better informed about collaborative robots, how they are used in manufacturing, how to program them, as well as how to operate industry-standard machine tools.

This paper further discusses the lessons learned from the pilot offering of the program, specifically how we incorporate student feedback to improve our curriculum and pedagogical approach. Thus, this work in progress study may serve as a valuable guide for K-12 STEM educators interested in developing programs that inspire and equip pre-college students to pursue engineering careers, especially in manufacturing fields. Future work will enlarge the sample size of participants through additional offerings and include quantitative evaluations of instructional effectiveness in addition to the student surveys.

Mbanisi, K. C., & Shah, P., & Somasse, G. B., & Gangadia, D., & Gennert, M. A., & Towner, W., & Bergstrom, T. S. (2021, July), Preparing the Next Generation Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Using Collaborative Robots and Experiential Learning (Work in Progress) Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37597

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