Plymouth State University gets $1 million federal grant for new robotics lab

  • Students in Plymouth State University’s ‘Robotics for Everyone’ class work with the software 'Fritzing' to build, program and assemble custom robots that can interface with their computers and smartphones. Plymouth State University—Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 4/25/2022 3:24:17 PM
Modified: 4/25/2022 3:22:51 PM

By next fall, Plymouth State University will open a robotics lab to accompany its new robotics bachelor’s degree program, funded in part by a $1 million federal grant.

Last fall, Plymouth State became the first institution in New Hampshire to introduce a robotics degree program, which university leaders hope will meet the growing demand for robotics, automation and IoT (Internet-of-Things) technology experts in the workforce.

“Robotics programs require considerable capital investment to provide a relevant, real-world hardware framework for students to learn from and train with,” said PSU president Donald Birx. “With this framework in place, graduates of our robotics program will be technically capable and prepared to immediately contribute to New Hampshire’s tech-based businesses.”

The new 4,500-square-foot robotics lab will be located on the top floor of the Draper & Maynard building, which also houses the campus makerspace. The area will have FANUC collaborative robots and laboratory, electronic benches, classrooms and other instructional spaces, as well as equipment and tools like 3-D printing, laser cutting, PCB circuit-board design and milling and Computer Numerical Control (CnC) workstations. Additional workstations for running Robot Operating Systems (ROS), ROS Visualization (rViz) and Gazebo simulators, with CUDA support for working with Machine Learning, such as TensorFlow. It will also include , which are employed in various industrial settings around the world. 

In the robotics bachelor’s degree program, students get hands-on experience through courses in electronics, mechanics, microcontrollers, manufacturing technologies and programming, as well as electives. Students will have opportunities to work in teams on real-world projects through the University’s Cluster Learning Model, which connects them to businesses, non-profit organizations and other outside entities.

The goal of the new program is to supplement a workforce of professionals who can design, build, operate and maintain automation systems as industries become more automated, which the University hopes will boost New Hampshire’s economy.

The University is planning a fall 2022 ceremony to mark the lab’s opening.

Eileen O

Eileen O'Grady is a Report for America corps member covering education for the Concord Monitor since spring 2020. O’Grady is the former managing editor of Scope magazine at Northeastern University in Boston, where she reported on social justice issues, community activism, local politics and the COVID-19 pandemic. She is a native Vermonter and worked as a reporter covering local politics for the Shelburne News and the Citizen. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Globe, U.S. News & World Report, The Bay State Banner, and VTDigger. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northeastern University and a bachelor’s degree in politics and French from Mount Holyoke College, where she served as news editor for the Mount Holyoke News from 2017-2018.

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