As the Fourth Industrial Revolution, known as “Industry 4.0”, continues to flourish, creating an educational environment that motivates students and exposes them to new manufacturing technologies is becoming increasingly more important.
The Fairfield County Workforce Center (FCWC) is a joint collaborative facility between Ohio University and Hawking College designed to train both students and professionals in skilled trades. FCWC is home to the very latest in advanced technologies, including industrial robots, robotic vision systems, programmable logic controllers, mechatronic trainers, and other advanced manufacturing equipment. Students enrolled in a technology engineering program interact with this equipment every day to hone their manufacturing skills.
While the students were home for the summer, the FCWC hosted the Totally Tech-Bot (TTB) robotics camp. TTB Camp was a free camp open to students in grades six through eight. The camp created hands-on opportunities for middle school students to interact with the latest equipment used in modern manufacturing.
“The camp was divided into robotics, led by an instructor at Hawking College, and manufacturing technology and engineering, led by me. I set up labs for campers to do and, to my surprise, they picked up everything very quickly,” said Trevor Warfield, assistant professor of teaching at Ohio University’s Lancaster campus.
Throughout the academic year, Warfield teaches in the Engineering Technology program. In this program, students can earn their Associate of Applied Science degree that focuses on developing their technical skills for success in the manufacturing industry.
“My teaching style is like mentorship. I love to involve myself in the class. We work together while students do their labs. This program is very practical, and we embrace learning by doing. The more hands-on students, the better in the workforce,” Warfield said. .
Warfield maintained his approach to teaching when middle school students came to the FCWC for TTB Camp. Just like students enrolled in the engineering technology program, campers must explore manufacturing equipment, such as the Human Machine Interface (HMI), by solving real-world problems.
“My plan was to set up a traffic light and the campers had to program the traffic light pattern using the HMI. We recorded an imaginary intersection on the ground at FCWC, so everyone understood the timing and function of the traffic light. Then they had to work together to write the code — and they did.” Warfield said.
The two separate one-week camps gave the campers many opportunities to explore the world of robotics and automation. The camp culminated in Family Day, where each wagon presented a piece of training equipment, how it was used and its importance in the manufacturing process. This was also an important opportunity for both campers and teachers to communicate the value of their new technical skills to their parents.
“Skilled businesses, such as manufacturing, are in great demand right now. Factories across Ohio need skilled workers and this is a unique skilled trade that leads to great work at great pay,” Warfield said. “It is important that we get our young people excited about the future of this industry.”
Besides the Totally Tech-Bot Robotics Camp, the Fairfield County Workforce Center is home to engineering technology courses for credit, as well as non-credit workforce development courses. Learn more about the Engineering Technology Program at OHIO’s Lancaster Campus on this website. Learn more about the Fairfield County Workforce Development Center in this location.
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