Robots in the classroom

 In Donor Stories, News
Clark receives nine industrial robots from SEH America


A global manufacturing company has donated nine industrial robotic arms and controllers to Clark’s mechatronics department.


“These are small industrial robots that are used for various pick-and-place operations,” said Ken Luchini, mechatronics professor at Clark. In other words, they are robotic arms that can pick up and move items, while also turning or reorienting them before setting them down. 


Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary field involving skills needed for advanced manufacturing. Clark’s mechatronics department has close relationships with businesses such as SEH America, which manufactures silicon wafers for the semiconductor industry. The company has facilities in Vancouver, Wash., and donated nine used models of the Mitsubishi RV-6SLC-S10 robots to Clark. 


“SEH America greatly values the education Clark College provides to our community,” said Tatsuo Ito, executive vice president at SEH America. “These robots come from our manufacturing processes. With this donation, students will have a chance to work directly with the same kinds of robots used in production here in Clark County.”


The used robots would cost approximately $13,000 each if purchased on eBay. Luchini said the robots have a reach of about three feet and are “relatively easily programmed.” In the short term, he said, Clark students will test their skills by unpacking the robots and seeing if they can get them to work. Luchini said he hopes the department can purchase wheeled tables so the robots can be transported easily between labs used for mechatronics systems and capstone courses.


“This donation is an example of how students benefit from Clark’s close partnerships with businesses such as SEH America,” said Armetta Burney, Clark’s outgoing interim dean of Workforce, Technical and Professional Education and STEM. “These robots are a new high-tech tool for our mechatronics program to provide students with a hands-on education that is practical and relevant in today’s industry.” 


Clark’s mechatronics department trains people for jobs in the semiconductor industry and other advanced manufacturing fields. 


“These are high demand jobs that pay very well,” Luchini said.

Joe Cristman confers with instructor Kenneth Luchini in 2015.

Left to right, former student Joe Cristman confers with professor Kenneth Luchini as he works through a task in 2015. Photo by Jenny Shadley


Clark’s mechatronics program has a waitlist and enrollment is limited by the number of instructors. 


“We’re short on instructors because they can go out in this industry and make more money than they do teaching full time,” Luchini said. 


However, mechatronics trains students for jobs that are important to the industry, he said. 


“The infrastructure of this country must have people who can manufacture and repair equipment for the food industry, the semiconductor industry and the transportation industry,” he said. 


Luchini also shared that Clark is constantly adding equipment to make sure students are learning the latest, most relevant skills for the field. 


“We have the best equipment available to train students to work on,” Luchini said.


“Everything is updated, and we have all the hydraulics and pneumatics, we have smaller pick-and-place robots, and now we have these larger ones from SEH America.” 


Story by Lily Raff McCaulou

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