E3 Robotics Center (ER3C) is an innovative STEM and robotics K-12 program that shows the powerful benefits of businesses and schools working together to train students in emerging technology – and ultimately strengthening the local manufacturing workforce.
In a recent AMT webinar, I sat down with Brian Boehler, executive director of the E3 Robotics Center (ER3C) in Elkhart, Indiana, and Pat Heller, director of engineering, ThermoDyne, to discuss their partnership on the robotics program for students in their region. The full webinar can be viewed here.
E3 stands for explore, educate, and engage, and that’s exactly what the program does through its robotics competitions, summer camps, and e-SPORTS camps.
While younger students focus on the concept of simple machines, basics of motors, sensors, programming, and other foundational skills, the high school students develop technical skills, programming robots with an increasing level of complexity.
Older students apply their knowledge and abilities in a real-world context that includes timelines, budgets, and materials processing, all while honing soft skills, such as teamwork, leadership, and public speaking.
As students build these skill sets “brick by brick,” they naturally evolve into mentors for younger students or those who are new to robotics – further instilling the soft skills that will become essential upon entering a professional environment in years to come.
The webinar continues with insight from Thermodyne’s Heller on how his company became not only involved with E3RC but a key supporter through generous in-kind and financial support. He and Boehler discuss options for private sector businesses in any community to support local STEM and robotics programs, with in-kind donations and financial contributions among the most effective avenues.
Student programs benefit tremendously from access to meeting and building space, new or gently used materials and tools, or subject matter expertise or mentors. Likewise, financial contributions are extremely valuable because programs face ongoing costs for materials and equipment, membership dues, and competition fees or travel expenses. Periodic and ongoing contributions enable clubs to provide students with enriched experiences.
AMT Smartforce advocates for the development of a critically-thinking, technically-savvy, and inspired workforce to fill the now one million available advanced manufacturing jobs, which have excellent pay and benefits, growth and entrepreneurial opportunities, and a comfortable work-life balance.
AMT promotes a variety of programs, including the Smartforce Student Summit at IMTS. Learn more about fulfilling careers in advanced manufacturing, visit IMTS.com/Smartforce.
For more information about the ECRC program visit E3Robotics.org.