The Suncoast Science Center/Faulhaber Fab Lab, a Sarasota-based nonprofit dedicated to promoting science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics education, is partnering with robotics leader RND Automation to increase exposure to STEAM careers by offering students enhanced learning opportunities and access to the world of robotics.
The relationship between the Fab Lab and RND Automation – Florida’s largest custom robotics, packaging and assembly machinery manufacturer – represents a powerful alliance between education and industry, highlighting the importance of fostering interest and skills in STEAM areas from an early age. By leveraging the expertise and resources of both organizations, students will be empowered to gain firsthand experience and practical knowledge in robotics, automation, and other fields.
The collaboration, said RND vice president Aaron Laine, is “a timely partnership as RND moves beyond its initial objective of broadening its reach nationally and internationally. This expansion now includes an emphasis on fostering technological growth within our community and contributing to its wellbeing.”
To kick off the partnership, RND Automation loaned a FANUC robotic arm to the Fab Lab for testing and learning. The robotic arm has already been programmed by summer camp student instructors for use in the lab’s Machine Madness camps as well as used in the lab’s BUILD program that teaches high school volunteers to use high-tech equipment to bring projects to life.
BUILD volunteers spent 15 hours learning how to program the arm and design 3D printing custom tool heads to seamlessly integrate into the robot. Among the tools built were an adapter that turns the robot into a pencil sharpener as well as a marker adapter that allows the robot to draw perfect shapes.
We are excited to join forces with RND Automation to bring a new level of engagement and exposure to STEM education,” Suncoast Science Center/Faulhaber Fab Lab Executive Director Ping Faulhaber said. “This partnership represents a significant milestone for us as we strive to bridge the gap between academia and industry, equipping students with the skills they need to thrive in the future workforce.”
Plans are underway to deepen the partnership by providing students with opportunities to work on real world automation projects at the Fab Lab with support from industry experts who work for RND Automation and other local companies. RND Automation experts will actively engage with students by offering mentorship and shadowing programs, guest lectures, and opportunities to visit their facilities. By connecting directly with professionals in the field, the partnership will expose students to real world applications and career possibilities in STEM earlier than ever.
Our focus is primarily on creating job opportunities for local students in their hometown. Sarasota and Manatee counties are already celebrated for various facets such as arts, business, and tourism,” Laine said. “RND’s initiative with the Fab Lab represents our endeavor to include ‘technology’ among these recognized attributes.”News Source: Herald-Tribune