New robotics team tours mobile training labBy Emily Beckett Published 4:27pm Thursday, October 31, 2013
Jemison High School’s newly formed robotics team held an educational event Thursday to gain more support and learn how robotics curriculum translates to workforce skill sets.
Students in the school’s Technology Student Association Chapter Robotics Team, as well as their classmates, had opportunities throughout the day to walk through the Alabama Robotics Technology Park’s Mobile Training Lab, a converted 53-foot semi-trailer containing robots and programmable logic controllers (PLCs) utilized in training, educational and industrial settings.
JHS teachers Brooke Elliott and Benton Morton formed the school’s first robotics team this year in an effort to cultivate students’ interest in math and science starting in their early high school years.
Elliott, who co-sponsors the robotics team with Morton, said JHS currently has only one student involved in the Academy of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) at LeCroy Career Technical Center.
“The math and science interest is low,” Elliott said. “I felt I needed to do something for the lower grades to get more interest.”
Elliott said the robotics team is composed of 24 students in seventh and eighth grades, and students are using a kit STEM instructor Jay LeCroy donated until they can raise enough funds to buy kits.
RTP Project Manager Rick Maroney said the mobile lab provides students and industries across the state with education and training in automation and robotics at no cost.
“There’s such a need in workforce development for students in the automation field,” Maroney said. “Most schools don’t catch what’s going on in industry, and industry does not let schools know what they need.”
Maroney offered welding as an example of an industry with more room for growth than people realize.
“In the workforce today, in the welding industry, there is a huge demand for welders, and also for robotic welders,” Maroney said. “You’ve got to have a skill set to go into the workforce. Automation is a great skill set to have. We’ve got to get these students to understand there are high-paying jobs out there.”
State Sen. Cam Ward also visited JHS on Thursday and toured the RTP mobile lab.
For more information about Alabama RTP, visit AlabamaRTP.org.