Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 22, 2014
The robotics industry in Alabama is expanding and students at Andalusia High School were introduced to possible careers in that industry through the Mobile Robotic Training Lab.
“A lot of these kids have never seen robotics, and when they think of robotics they think of R2D2 and Star Wars,” robotic welding instructor Tim Springer said. “This is a whole different scenario; these are all industrial robotics used in industrial application. This just opens up a whole new arena for them.”
The Robotics Technology Park (RTP) mobile unit came to AHS Tuesday, and presented students with insight into how Alabama industry runs on robotic technology.
“We take this mobile unit around the state to introduce students to automation, and hopefully students will show an interest in it and pursue a career in the industry,” Springer said. “There’s a huge demand out there for people working in robotics and automation, and there are a lot of jobs available.”
The RTP training facility is located in Tanner, north of Decatur, and has three training facilities, each targeted to a specific industry need.
It is a division of AIDT, which provides industrial training to companies throughout the state.
The facility trains for six different robotic systems.
“There is a lot of robotic use in industry, including the automotive industry,” Springer said. “We are the only kind of facility like this in the world, and the mobile unit is an extension of it.
“We’re supported by all the industries across the state and employees of those industries come in and receive classes in robotics.”
The mobile unit was scheduled to visit AHS a year in advance by career coach Polly Dubose, who wanted to share the career possibilities in this field with students in Andalusia.
“Not only does is bring industry to the state of Alabama, but it helps expand career opportunities for students that they may have not had any idea about,” Dubose said.
One student said she was skeptical about robotics because she thought it would take jobs away from residents and promote homelessness.
Dubose said that is a common misconception and that the industry produces many jobs and opportunities.
“In today’s society there are so many career opportunities in robotics,” principal Dr. Daniel Shakespeare said. “We just thought this was a great opportunity to introduce our students to the world of robotics.”
According to recruiter.com, a robotics engineer in Alabama can make from just under $60,000 to $140,000 a year. Hourly rates range from just under $30/hr to almost $70/hr.