Wayne State engineering faculty teaming with Oakland Community College on cobot learning program

cobotA research team comprised of faculty from Wayne State University and Oakland Community College was recently awarded a $309,000 grant from the National Science Foundation Division of Undergraduate Education. Jeremy Rickli, assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering, and Ana Djuric, assistant professor of engineering technology, are co-principal investigators on a project titled “Learning Program for Cobots in Advanced Manufacturing Systems.”

The project focuses on the use of cobots, or collaborative robots, in advanced manufacturing systems, and aims to develop critical industry-driven, hands-on learning content for cobot technicians, engineering technologists, and robotic automation teachers and faculty.

“Cobots, or collaborative robots, are safe and flexible enough to operate in the vicinity of and harmoniously with human operators,” according to the project report. “With a predicted 150,000 cobots to be installed worldwide in the next three years, cobots will become standard practice in advanced manufacturing systems and will cause manufacturers to re-evaluate traditional barriers between human, semi-automated and automated tasks.”

Wayne State and Oakland Community College will collaborate to develop a cobot course and laboratory at OCC to educate community college students and develop their cobot skills. A two-day cobot short course hosted by Wayne State will teach community college instructors advanced cobot topics. Seminars for college faculty, STEM instructors and industry professionals will serve to broaden cobot awareness.

Additionally, this partnership will forge a pathway for OCC engineering students to continue cobot education at Wayne State.

Other deliverables of this project include comprehensive educational material for STEM secondary teachers as well as community college and university faculty to educate manufacturing workers in cobot technology.

The principal investigator for this project is Deborah Bayer, interim dean of engineering, manufacturing, and industrial technologies at Oakland Community College. John Sefcovic, professor of robotics technology at Oakland Community College, is a co-principal investigator.

The grant number for this project is 1601454.


Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution of higher education offering more than 380 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 28,000 students. For more information about engineering at Wayne State University, visit engineering.wayne.edu.

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