The robots are here!
Chevron Enjoy Science sends 28 industrial robots to technical colleges and vocational schools across Thailand
A six-axis robot arm closely resembles the human arm—it has a shoulder, elbow and wrist, and can move three-dimensionally through space along an x, y and z axis.
The robot arm is among the most common manufacturing machines in many industries for its ability to safely pick and place and drill patterns with incredible consistency and accuracy. For students studying to become the future technicians of Thailand, learning to operate and program a robot arm is often a necessary skill.
Learning on real industrial machinery, however, is still an anomaly in electrical and mechatronic departments across Thailand’s technical education system. “Students need to gain the skills and knowledge to join the workforce, but they have no confidence,” said Teacher Vatanyoo Howhan of Prachinburi Technical College. “They get onto the factory floor, and they’ve never touched a real robot.”
For two weeks in October, 78 faculty members from all 27 technical colleges and one vocational school huddled around the IRB 120, an industrial robot arm built by the Swedish-Swiss automation company ABB Limited Co., Ltd. Using a joystick-like control panel as well as programming in the RobotStudio software, faculty were trained by ABB personnel in the robotics learning package, which consists of the industrial robot, simulation software, control panel, as well as multimedia learning materials.
As part of the Chevron Enjoy Science project’s Technical Curriculum Enhancement initiative, which aims to realign technical education with Thailand’s growing need for skilled technicians, 28 ABB IRB 120 robots are on their way to 28 schools for pedagogical purposes this month.
In collaboration with King Mongkut’s University of Technology North Bangkok, Chevron Enjoy Science unveiled a series of industrial robotics lesson plans to accompany the IRB 120. The curriculum emphasizes project-based, problem-based, competition-based and outcome-based learning. In addition to skills and knowledge, students are simultaneously pushed to develop the 21st century skills of critical thinking and collaboration to prepare for the modern workplace.
Among the tasks students will be challenged to complete are “pick and place,” in which the robot arm must grip, move, and place an object elsewhere; “painting,” in which the robot must hold a pencil and draw a circle; and “palletising,” in which the robot must stack cases of goods onto a pallet.
“Sometimes students complain that they don’t know why they have to learn something,” said Teacher Vatanyoo. “When you adapt a course to real work, students can see the effects of their learning in relation to the world.”
“It will be the first robot arm at our school,” said Teacher Vatanyoo. “So the teachers and students are all very excited.”