At the Robot Academy of VAMK, robots are friends, not strangers
ROBOTICS has long since ceased to be science fiction. It is here, now and advancing at breathtaking pace. The VAMK University of Applied Sciences in Vaasa is keeping its finger on the pulse and staying abreast of developments in the field. Its task is to train the top experts of the future, engineers who will not be at a loss when designing, for example, a production line.
“To be able to take advantage of robotics, you must understand the possibilities and applications of robots. More than half the robots made in the world today go to China. It’s high time we acquire the same readiness here in Finland”, says Mika Billing, lecturer at VAMK’s School of Technology.
ROBOTICS IS making strides every moment, and there is a continuous whirlwind of change in the sector. Incredible things can already be achieved by combining computer vision, grippers and 3D.
According to Billing, more and more new possibilities will become available as robots get smarter and more agile. He knows what he is talking about, because, as well as providing robotics training for students, VAMK has long been engaging in close cooperation with the region’s companies in cases involving robotics. For example, VAMK is the only certified robotics educator for ABB.
“It is our task to train employees for companies. We help companies to robotise their production and teach their employees to use the robots.We act as a consultant, starting from design and programming.”
TO THE QUESTION, should you robotise it, the answer is more and more often ‘yes’. That is why VAMK established the Robot Academy. As the quantity of the robots used grows, the demand for engineers able to manage them increases. Accord-ing to the Director of the School of Technology at VAMK, Jorma Tuominen, the Robot Academy produces engineers who specifically understand the possibilities robotics offer and are able to capitalise on them.
“Throughout the Robot Academy, the students’ ability to absorb new information and skills grows. This is a by-product you can’t put a price on, it is paramount.”
THE ROBOT ACADEMY is available for engineering students focusing on mechanical engineering design. At the Academy, they complete real robotics projects for real companies. They design a robot to meet the company’s needs, manufacture its grippers and integrate them. Finally, the pilot robot is presented to the company at a seminar. In studies on technical science at VAMK, combining theorywith practice always comes first. More than that, the Robot Academy departs from all other studies in its approach in a most refreshing way.
“With us, future engineers learn about project work, which will stand them in good stead intheir careers. The study methods we use are very flexible, as traditional classroom learning simply doesn’t work in this case. Best of all, this gives the students the opportunity to network with companies. They engage in genuine work, which raises their competence to new heights. All our students consider this a logical and rewarding way to learn”, says Tuominen.
“This motivates their learning, making it much more effective. Our intensive Robot Academy takes four months to complete. Everyone really wants to succeed and they commit themselves totally to their project and give it their all”, Billing smiles.