Kent State Engineering Students and Robots Help with Vaccine Production

Kent State University students in the College of Aeronautics and Engineering (CAE) are learning to assist with mass COVID-19 vaccination production by becoming certified in programming and operating FANUC LR Mate 200iD robots, a certificate only offered at select locations in the nation.

Darwin Boyd, Ph.D., works with a student in the robotics lab. (Photo taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic)
The FANUC LR Mate 200iD robot can be programmed to make and package the COVID-19 vaccine by picking and placing vials into vertical cartons.

“The robot [used in actual vaccine packaging] itself is almost exactly the same robot that our students are trained on in the Industrial Robotics course,” said Darwin Boyd, Ph.D., assistant professor in the College of Aeronautics and Engineering.

Students who take Industrial Robotics (ENG 33333) receive a FANUC certification and are able to program the robot to complete many tasks including vaccination packaging.

“This is a perfect example of how the College of Aeronautics and Engineering meets two key components of its core mission: providing a dynamic educational experience that fosters experiential learning and producing forward-thinking professionals dedicated to overcoming limits and improving lives,” said Christina Bloebaum, Ph.D., dean of the College of Aeronautics and Engineering.

“The CAE uses cutting-edge research and state-of-the-art facilities and equipment to prepare students to change the world,” Bloebaum said.

Working at an engineering company has shown senior mechatronics major Saroj Dahal the importance of robotics. Dahal is currently enrolled in the Industrial Robotics course at Kent State.

“Industrial Robotics is not a class that I have to take for my degree, but I wanted to take it because at this point in time, robots are really important in automation,” Dahal said. “By taking this course, I will be one step ahead of other students entering my career field who don't know anything about robots.”

Even students who are not planning to work in automation can benefit from the course.

“The certification always looks good on a resume,” said Marcella Reid, a mechatronics engineering senior who took Industrial Robotics in spring 2020. “I enjoyed learning the different things you can use the robot for. When you see videos of them in the industry, they're moving so fast. They're very efficient and accurate.”

All students at Kent State are welcome to take the course, even if their major is outside of the College of Aeronautics and Engineering. Students only need a prerequisite of a basic physics course.

“We do a really good job of training our students on the equipment and educating them on why learning industrial robotics in a co-curricular environment is important,” Boyd said. “Going to any industrial training course or program is very expensive, and this is a class that students can take right here at Kent State.”

FANUC training at one of their facilities can cost up to $5,000 per certificate. Taking the course at Kent State and building it into their plan of study, or road map, saves students money and time in the future. 

Obtaining a FANUC Robotics HandlingTool Operation and Programming Certificate of Completion is one of the many opportunities Kent State students can take advantage of in the College of Aeronautics and Engineering. 

“In CAE, we prepare students for their future careers, not just jobs after graduation,” said Bloebaum. “We believe that one of the best ways to do this is by connecting classroom learning directly to current events that are impacting the world.”

For more information on Industrial Robotics and the College of Aeronautics and Engineering, visit www.kent.edu/cae/fanuc-robot-training

POSTED: Monday, April 19, 2021 - 9:23am
UPDATED: Thursday, April 29, 2021 - 4:06pm
WRITTEN BY:
Olivia Futo