Donated robots join engineering efforts

News Release Date: 

Published in the June 26, 2012 edition of The Marion Star 
Written by Kurt Moore

Ohio State/MTC maintenance employees Dave Collins, left, and Phil Beltz, right, coordinate removal of a RobotWorx robot from the delivery truck that brought them to the Ohio State Marion campus.  Photo courtesy of Ohio State Marion


MARION -- Industrial robots and increased courses are coming to The Ohio State University at Marion as its engineering program enters its second year.

RobotWorx, a local company located on West Fairground Street, donated two Motoman SK-6 industrial robots this month that will be used by engineering students. They also will be available for use by students at Marion Technical College and Tri-Rivers Career Center through a partnership agreement not yet worked out.

Campus officials also announced efforts to add courses to help engineering students complete at least two years of requirements before transferring to the main campus in Columbus.

Ohio State at Marion hired engineering professor Gary Maul and launched the engineering program in 2011 after noticing an increasing number of students who planned to major in engineering. Associate Dean Bishun Pandey said officials toured the main campus and Mansfield campus to look at their engineering facilities and make sure what is offered in Marion is comparable.

The donated robots will be a feature that school officials said is unique to the Marion campus.

One robot is on display at the entrance to Morrill Hall and another is in the lobby of Maynard Hall. They will later go to the library classroom building for use by engineering students.

The robots, one that can do arc welding and the other designed to grip, are similar to what's used in automotive manufacturing and other manufacturing industries.

RobotWorx CEO Keith Wanner said he donated the robots so students can experience working with industrial robotics as part of their education.

 He said the company receives applications from graduates who have used educational robots used in schools but who have no experience with industrial robots.

Wanner believes that Marion is a ripe area to focus on industrial robotics because of its proximity to cities like Detroit that are closely tied to automotive manufacturing, a major user of robotics.

"We are trying to come up with ways to help the Marion area," he said.

The robots also will be available for use by students at Marion Technical College, which shares the campus with Ohio State at Marion, and Tri-Rivers Career Center through a partnership yet to be worked out.

 RobotWorx also is a partner in the robotics training center that will be built at Tri-Rivers and operated as a partnership between the three schools.

The robots join other changes made on the Marion campus as part of its focus on engineering.

The Marion campus added math, chemistry, philosophy and physics classes that are engineering requirements. Pandey said these are either filling up or are already full for fall semester.

He expects the campus will soon hire a computer engineering professor. The hope is to eventually offer most of the core requirements for engineering programs locally so students can get a start before completing their degrees in Columbus.

Pandey said campus officials had noticed an interest in engineering as students applied to college. He also said the decision was motivated by the economy as potential students search for careers in which it is easy to find jobs and good salaries.

Penny Eyster, an academic counselor, said Ohio State at Marion students benefit from smaller class sizes and lower tuition costs.

Reporter Kurt Moore: 740-375-5151, or on Twitter @StarKurtMoore