OCTOBER 1, 2018
WATERTOWN, SD Thanks to a $1 million NIST MEP (Manufacturing Extension Partnership) Competitive Awards Program grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Lake Area Technical Institute will be part of a collaborative effort to increase competitiveness and efficiency in regional manufacturing industries. The grant was awarded to South Dakota Manufacturing & Technology Solutions (SDMTS) who in turn has partnered with Lake Area Tech, the University of South Dakota, and Impact Dakota to fulfill the grant’s objectives over the next three years.
As a grant recipient, Lake Area Tech will test and integrate the automated systems that have been developed by NIST and replicated by SDMTS. Lake Area Tech will incorporate new technology in the Robotics laboratory for training and demonstrations of grant-acquired Collaborative Robots (Cobots) and Autonomous Guided Vehicles (AGVs), develop courses to incorporate into the Robotics program, and create and offer training programs for manufacturers through Lake Area Tech’s Corporate Education division.
Keith Deibert, SDMTS Business Advisor, comments, “This grant offers a unique opportunity to advance the awareness and implementation of next generation automation technologies to South Dakota manufacturers. The dawning of the Industrial Revolution 4.0 will require all manufacturers to deploy these next generation automation technologies to remain competitive on the world stage.”
Robotic students will begin programming and interfacing the Cobots and AGVs as early as next semester. Further development of the systems will include determining which tasks the automated systems can perform and developing end effector technologies for Cobots and vision capabilities for AGVs.
“The unique training and expertise our students receive as a result of this grant is invaluable,” said Brooks Jacobsen, Lake Area Tech Robotics/EST Department Supervisor. “Upon graduation, these students will be in high demand throughout the region and well beyond.”
Lake Area Tech’s Corporate Education division will also be offering Cobot and AGV training for industry and will assist in identifying areas in which automated systems would be advantageous.
PHOTO CAPTION (attached): South Dakota Manufacturing and Technology Solutions (SDMTS) Automation Engineer, Travis Thiex, operates the first family of Cobots. The next generation will arrive at Lake Area Tech by the end of the year.