RI robot maker building a bridge over workforce skills gap

New England Institute of Technology’s (NEIT) NEW Associate Degree program in Advanced Manufacturing Technology has been developed in conjunction with companies like Yushin America to address a critical need for its workforce.

The new Advanced Manufacturing Technology degree, as part of NEIT’s Bachelor’s degree in Manufacturing Engineering Technology, is designed to assist employers in hiring individuals with the right skills. Yushin America in Cranston, RI, has hired more than 60 NEIT graduates of the Manufacturing Engineering Technology program.

From Providence Journal:

Tom Gilbride, an automation and robotic technician, teaches and aligns a robot at the Yushin plant in Cranston. Governor Raimondo last month spotlighted the company as an example of advanced manufacturing — the high-tech, high-end descendant of the manufacturing that sustained Rhode Island for centuries before yielding to overseas competition. The Providence Journal/Mary Murphy

Nicholas Salcedo, a robotics technician at Yushin, an advanced manufacturer in Cranston, gets a robotic arm ready to run specified actions before it is shipped to a company in Texas to be integrated into that company’s automation. The Providence Journal/Mary Murphy


Rhode Islanders may do a double-take when they hear Governor Raimondo talk about manufacturing as a key to reviving the economy and creating jobs.

After all, isn’t manufacturing all about the past? Doesn’t she see all those closed brick factories?  Didn’t manufacturing jobs peak in the 1940s, and haven’t they been sliding ever since?

But Raimondo is talking about a different type of manufacturing, called advanced manufacturing, that produces precise, engineered-to-order, high-end products for the medical-device, defense, aerospace and other industries.

This manufacturing is all about the future, and it pays middle-income wages.

But she pointed out they are not the low-skill manufacturing jobs of the past, but newer, advanced manufacturing jobs that require highly trained workers. Rhode Island should be primed to take advantage.

“We need the skills to fill the jobs that are our opportunity,” she said.

After Raimondo visited the Yushin America facility in Cranston last month to outline her plan to create jobs and revamp the state’s workforce training system, I talked with Michael Greenhalgh, operations director at Yushin.

He said Yushin, a unit of Yushin Precision Equipment Co. Ltd. of Japan, is completing a $2-million expansion and wants to hire 14 more workers. Some would be at a starting pay of $12 to $13 an hour. Others would be paid about $50,000 a year.

But, Greenhalgh can’t find workers with the skills he needs.

But the real answer is more qualified candidates coming out of the vocational and technical schools or colleges, or better training of workers who are in transition from declining industries.

It’s a good idea, but I don’t think Rhode Island can wait years for a regional solution.

State leaders should already be working to figure out how to close the skills gap.

The state has fallen behind its neighbors in advanced manufacturing. But with the right focus and commitment, there’s no reason it can’t catch up and overtake its competitors.

Manufacturing, an old industry that’s retooling for the future, deserves a solid second look.

Source: John Kostrzewa: R.I. robot maker building a bridge over workforce skills gap – News – providencejournal.com – Providence, RI


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Working Together To Help Animals

11-X-ray VET

Using a canine manikin, VET students Jillian Jaena and Lisa Criscione position the 3D printed mock x-ray machine built by MCT students Taylor Badessa and Vishnu Harnarine. Pictured with the students is VET Assistant Professor, Donna Fortin-Davidson, DVM

Students and faculty from the Mechanical Engineering Technology (MCT) and Veterinary Technology (VET) programs collaborated on a unique project to assist with dental care for animals.  Veterinary Technology Department Chair, Dr. Darlene Jones, along with lab assistant, Nick Raimondi, met with MCT students, Vishnu Harnarine and Taylor Badessa, whose task was to design a mock dental x-ray machine.  It will be used by the VET students to practice the positioning of and the taking of animal dental x-rays.

First, Taylor and Vishnu studied existing veterinarian x-ray machines and similar devices.  Next they documented the x-ray machines features and developed concept drawings and project charts. The design phase included 3D designing and modeling, structure engineering analysis, material selection analysis, and prototyping.  The x-ray camera head was produced on New England Tech’s 3D printer.  The support mechanism/arms and dolly were fabricated in the MCT laboratory. Finally, the prototype was assembled, adjusted, and tested.   As part of their final project, Taylor and Vishnu demonstrated the x-ray machine to the very appreciative Vet Tech students and faculty.

Dean Plowman, Mechanical Engineering Department Chair, stated, “This was a great interdisciplinary project between Mechanical Engineering and Veterinary Technology students using MCT and 3D printing techniques.  It was great to see students working together from very different programs to achieve a common goal. We are all so very pleased with the outcome.”


National Robotics Week: igus Celebrates with Robot Block Party

We will be there.  Will you?

From Design News:

At the end of this week, which is National Robotics Week 2015, igus will celebrate by exhibiting at the Rhode Island Robot Block Party. The plastic bearings leader — which also makes cables, cable carriers, linear bearings, and linear guides — will demonstrate its robot-related products at the event and provide robot giveaways to lucky winners during the event on Saturday, April 11.

The second-annual Robot Block Party will take place at Brown University’s Pizzitola Sports Center, between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. It’s hosted by the Rhode Island School of the Future and the Humanity Centered Robotics Initiative at Brown. The non-profit Rhode Island Students of the Future uses youth robotics to engage young people in science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) and manufacturing through youth robotics.

More than 50 hands-on exhibits, demonstrations, and displays will be available at the party from schools, universities, companies, and non-profit organizations around the area, including Brown, the New England Institute of Technology, and Hasbro’s Animatronics Lab. Although this is a STEM event, all ages are welcome. The demonstrations and exhibit are focused on helping everyone, not just kids, discover how robots are being used in education, toy design, and manufacturing. You can find out more about the event and register for free tickets here.

Design News – STEM Connection – igus Celebrates National Robotics Week at the Robot Block Party.

PBN chooses Manufacturing Award winners

Thank you, Providence Business News for recognizing New England Tech with this Manufacturing Award.  And congratulations to all of this years other winners.

From Providence Business News:

Todd Blount, president and CEO of Blount Fine Foods Corp., the maker of fine soups, sauces, entrees and sides based in Fall River and Warren, has been named winner in the Leadership & Strategy category of Providence Business News’ second annual Manufacturing Awards program.

Blount is among 12 winning individuals and companies selected from dozens of applications and that will be recognized at a dinner to be held Thursday, April 2 from 5:30-8 p.m., at Bryant University’s Bello Center.

Other winners in this second year of the Manufacturing Awards are:

  • Hope Valley Industries, for Overall Excellence, more than 150 employees
  • Bouckaert Industrial Textiles Inc., Overall Excellence, 50-150 employees
  • SES America Inc., Overall Excellence, fewer than 50 employees
  • New England Institute of Technology, Collaboration in Manufacturing
  • Ava Anderson Non Toxic, Emerging Manufacturer
  • Wardwell Braiding Co., Exporting Excellence
  • Petro-Cycle Solutions LLC, Green Manufacturing Excellence
  • Hayward Industries, Lean Manufacturing Excellence
  • Quick Fitting Inc., Product Innovation & Design
  • Toray Plastics (America) Inc., Safety Performance & Records Excellence
  • Edesia, Workforce Development & Productivity Excellence

Click the Link to read the entire Providence Business News story via PBN chooses Manufacturing Award winners, Blount tops for leadership – Providence Business News.

MCT Students Earn Their “Yellow Belt”

From left: Instructors Steve Russo, Jennifer Hurley, and Annie Unger; Students Steven Gagne, Sarah Berthiaume, Alexandrea Pimentel, Vishnu Harnarine, Gregory Pickering; Department Chair Dean Plowman.

From left: Instructors Steve Russo, Jennifer Hurley, and Annie Unger; Students Steven Gagne, Sarah Berthiaume, Alexandrea Pimentel, Vishnu Harnarine, Gregory Pickering; Department Chair Dean Plowman.

The term “Yellow Belt” has taken on a new meaning from the world of karate at New England Tech. On January 21, 2015, 13 Mechanical Engineering Technology (MCT) students earned the Six Sigma DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) Yellow Belt certification. Through NEIT’s Automation and Processing Controls class, these outstanding students learned the quality control skills and methodology necessary to prepare them for process excellence.

Six Sigma certification is a confirmation of an individual’s capabilities with respect to specific quality control competencies. Similar to other quality certifications, Six Sigma students must learn the appropriate subject matter, pass a written proficiency test, and display competency in a hands-on environment. There are several different bodies of knowledge and preparation time for each Six Sigma level (White Belt, Yellow Belt, Green Belt, Black Belt, and Master Black Belt)..

Utilization of Six Sigma implementation leads to reduced costs, increased revenues, improved process speed and higher quality levels. Students learn to solve problems methodically and thoroughly, evaluate a measurement system, and close significant projects. Emphasis is placed on the process steps required to ensure successful completion of challenging projects and deliver bottom-line results.

Special thanks to Sensata Technologies of Attleboro, Massachusetts, for providing technical expertise to NEIT to incorporate Six Sigma DMAIC certification into its Mechanical Engineering Technology curriculum. This certification is recognized by today’s engineering and automation industries giving NEIT graduates a competitive edge when seeking employment.

Congratulations to Brian Dilworth, Adam Faucher, Matthew Irvine, Alexandrea Pimentel, Richard Sharkey, Jared Walker, Sarah Berthiaume, Steven Gagne, Vishnu Harnarine, Michael Osipowicz, Gregory Pickering, Jake Surprenant, and Kenneth Young.

2014-2015 FIRST Tech Challenge Winners

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The top four teams advancing to the Eastern Super Regional in Scranton PA in March will be #121 Aquidneck Island Robotics, #154 Burrillville, #5030 Mt. Hope HS and 8129 Warwick Veterans Memorial High School. 

Team in the Final match were  

Winning Alliance Award

This award will be given to the winning alliance represented in the final match of the competition, usually consisting of three teams.

#154 Burrillville, #8129 Warwick Veterans, #121 Aquidneck Island Robotics 

Finalist Alliance Award

This award will be given to the finalist alliance represented in the final match of the competition, usually consisting of three teams

#4531 Mt. Hope HS, #6217 The Fellowship, #5030 Mt. Hope HS 

FIRST Judges Awards 

Inspire Award

This formally judged award is given to the team that truly embodied the ‘challenge’ of the FTC program. The team that receives this award is chosen by the judges as having best represented a role model FTC Team. This team is a top contender for all other judging categories and is a strong competitor on the field.

Top 3 Teams for this award were: #121 Aquidneck Island, #5030 Mt. Hope HS, #6527 N. Kingstown HS,

The winner was #121 Aquidneck Island Robotics

Think Award

This judged award is given to the team that best reflects the “journey” the team took as they experienced the engineering design process during the build season. The engineering notebook is the key reference for judges to help identify the most deserving team.

Top 3 teams for this award were #8129 Warwick Veterans, #6527 N. Kingstown HS, #5030 Mt. Hope HS

The winner was #8129 Warwick Veterans Memorial High School

Connect Award

This judged award is given to the team that most connected with their local community and the engineering community.

The top 3 teams for this award were: #6527 N. Kingstown HS, #6217 The Fellowship, #6891 Central Falls HS

The winner was #6527 North Kingstown High School 

Rockwell Collins Innovate Award

The Rockwell Collins Innovate Award celebrates a team that not only thinks outside the box, but also has the ingenuity and inventiveness to make their designs come to life.

The top 3 teams for this award were: #154 Burrillville, #4531 Mt. Hope HS, #8129 Warwick Veterans

The winner was #154 Burrillville 

PTC Design Award

This judged award recognizes design elements of the robot that are both functional and aesthetic. All successful robots have innovative design aspects; however, the PTC Design Award is presented to teams that incorporate industrial design elements into their solution.

The top 3 teams for this award were: #4578 N. Providence HS, #6527 N. Kingstown HS, #5030 Mt. Hope HS

The winner was #4578 North Providence High School 

Motivate Award                                                                                                                                                 This judged award celebrates the team that exemplifies the essence of the FTC competition through team spirit and enthusiasm. They show their spirit through costumes and fun outfits, a team cheer or outstanding spirit.

The top 3 teams for this award were: #6217 The Fellowship, #9009 Scituate HS, #252 The Wheeler School

The winner was #6217 The Fellowship 

For more information on the FIRST Tech Challenge or programs at New England Tech contact Erin Flynn at eflynn@neit.edu or 401-739-5000

Clash of robots puts technology skills to test

Fantastic story in the Warwick Beacon highlighting the First Robotics competition that took place on our campus over the weekend. Congratulations to all who competed.

via Clash of robots puts technology skills to test – Warwick Beacon.

While most were focused on the big New England Patriots game, the students who participated in Saturday’s For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) competition proved that they, too, were the weekend’s real winners.

“I would say the majority of these kids do not participate in sports,” joked Warwick Veterans Memorial High School robotics team coach Larry West.  “They’ve put a lot of time and effort into this, and this contest gives kids another way to compete rather than through sports.”

Hundreds of students and spectators filled the New England Institute of Technology’s Center for Automotive Technology (NEIT) building with Super Bowl sized enthusiasm. They’d come for a competition featuring deflate-proof wiffle and ping-pong balls, and tech savvy young adults who’d journeyed for months to engage in futuristic robot skirmishes.

“We’ve put over 150 hours into this, definitely,” said lead programmer Kevin Sanita of the Veterans team, which goes by the name Cane Bots. “It’s intense.”

The daylong event was a flurry of activity that made Star Trek’s faster than light warp drive technology seem slow and outdated by comparison. Thirty-three teams, comprised of 250 middle and high school students from throughout the state, met to showcase robots that they’d designed, built and programmed.

“Today our hope is that the students participating enjoy the competition while at the same time use math and engineering principals to win,” said Steve Kitchin, NEIT’s Vice President for Corporate Education and Training.

The competition gives teens programming and prototype development experience and problem solving and team building skills while constructing robots to competition specifications. Winning teams go on to compete at regional and national competitions for college scholarships. Dozens of robots filled the center, partaking in a series of contests with serious sets of rules and guidelines.

“We understand that ensuring that young people have opportunities like this, and begin to think of careers in science and engineering, are critical to the future of our state,” said Congressman David Cicilline at the event. “In addition to being great fun, watching [students] do this gives us a lot of hope in the future of our state and country.”

Warwick’s contingent of students was well represented by both public and private schools, with Vets, Rocky Hill School and Bishop Hendricken participating.

“This is a culmination of their four months of efforts in trying to put this robot together to accomplish these tasks,” said Hendricken coach Rick Notardonato, whose team went through three robot designs this season. Their robot’s name is Robo Hawk. “This is an opportunity for them to do hands on learning that they don’t really have an opportunity to do in any of their classes, it’s really big for them,” he said.

The contest pits teams against one another as their robots completed automated- and team-guided tasks. The competition was closely monitored by referees and judges to ensure fairness and quality.

“I’m an engineer, and I think this is so important for kids. I absolutely love it,” said Helen Greathouse, who served as head judge for the eighth year. “There’s a gracious professionalism that’s such a big part of this event. We like to see teams helping each other. One team gave another a new battery; they loan each other tools. There’s almost an alliance between teams that may have never worked together before.”

The contest saw tremendous excitement early on with Warwick Vets team stunning the crowd by performing exceptionally well during an early round. Their high score came in the “Cascade Effect” event, where robots collect and strategically place wiffle and ping-pong balls.

“We’ve had one competition so far and we’re on our way to our second,” said Sanita after the round. “The first one, the autonomous part didn’t go exactly as planned, but it was very close. We got good points, we got 384 points in that round!”

“Did you see what Vets did during that round? That may be a national scoring record, that was an incredible performance,” said Hendricken coach Notardonato.

While the competition saw the Aquidneck Island, Burrillville and Mt. Hope teams advance to the Eastern Super Regional Tournament in Scranton, Pa. in March, the Warwick Vets team’s success in the competition was recognized when they received the competition’s Think Award.

According to competition rules, the judged Think Award is given to the team that best reflects the “journey” the team took as they experienced the engineering design process during the season. The team’s engineering notebook, a log kept throughout the year, is the reference used by judges in determining the award.

“This competition is a cross curricular format. There’s English used, the kids have to maintain a notebook for this, and math and programming go hand and hand,” said coach West. “I’m just really proud of the kids for getting together and working so well.”

Regardless of the final outcome, it was clear that all the students involved were winners for achieving so much from their positive experiences.

“I’d like to thank everyone involved in this, it’s been amazing,” said programmer Sanita. “Whether or not we win, it’s still amazing what we did, and it’s amazing what all these people here did.”

Read more at The Warwick Beacon.

Employer Feedback

All of the recent NEIT graduates that we interviewed seemed to have real life knowledge and experiences to help them get started in their field of expertise.  NEIT is doing a wonderful job getting their students prepared for work experience.”

– Dawn Rubino, Director of Human Resources, Stolberger Inc. dba, Wardwell Braiding Co.


Deflate-gate: Mechanical Engineering Weighs-In

Everyone is talking about what is being called ‘deflate-gate’ and no matter where you stand on the subject there is a technical side to this story.  New England Tech’s Mechanical Engineering Department Chair, Dean Plowman talked to RJ Heim of WJAR yesterday.

From WJAR news report:

With ESPN reporting that 11 of the 12 Patriots’ game footballs were 2 pounds per square inch below the regulation minimum of 12.5 pounds, it’s important to note that different air temperatures make a difference on the pressure.

“The temperature is always going to be a variable, just like (with) your car tires. The car tires are always changing their pressure based on (air) temperature,” Dean Plowman of the New England Institute of Technology said.

The gas going in the football, presuming it is air, is mostly nitrogen at 78 percent and oxygen at 21 percent. But with higher humidity — it was raining at the Sunday night game — water content can be as high as 6 percent, displacing the previous gasses.

“So, if I fill a football at 71 degrees to 12.5 psi (pounds per square inch) and I take that ball outside to 51 degrees, the pressure inside that ball is going to drop proportionally relative to that temperature drop,” Plowman said.

So, with a 20-degree temperature drop, that would mean at most a half pound of pressure difference inside the ball.

Even accounting for the temperature difference and its effect on the pressure in the football, it would still leave the balls in question with reportedly a pound-and-a-half of pressure below the regulation limit. How that happened is the question.

“To do something like that is a lot of work. So, why would you even risk, you know, doing that?” Plowman said.