ABB Australia and Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE-A) have announced Chun-Yen Lai from RMIT University as the overall winner of the 2008 National Robotics Innovation Competition.
For the second year since their inception, ABB Australia together with the SAE-A have successfully organised the National Robotics Innovation Competition. The initiative aims at encouraging university students to interact and collaborate with industry to produce a design proposal utilising an industrial application of a robot in a work cell or process.
Students from all Australian universities were encouraged to participate and entries were evaluated on key points such as generated savings, innovation, safety, and the likelihood of success.
According to Paul Gekas, General Manager, ABB robotics, adaptability and cost savings are key words for the future of all industries. Demonstrating the diversity and potential that exists, the 2008 prize-winning engineering design found an immediate application for their innovative concept, which was embraced by Australian furniture manufacturer SK Furniture.
Throughout 2008, Chun-Yen worked closely with SK Furniture, developing a solution featuring the use of an industrial robot to automate the manufacturing of key components. The process devised would be equally applicable in many areas of engineering manufacture at supplier or OEM level.
Paul Gekas concluded that the opportunity to liaise with industry partners on specific projects is truly a ‘win-win’ for all concerned. Companies received genuine commercial developments, access to cutting edge information through the universities, and the chance to review and interact with the brightest employee prospects. With no financial commitment required, companies across the industrial and automotive sectors were keen to examine existing manufacturing processes or identify potential opportunities for productivity improvement through robotic automation.
Students gained real world experience, including lessons beyond the textbook covering communication, and the commercial imperatives of presenting a valid business case. These, combined with the right attitude and work ethic, all form part of the skill-set employers seek in the modern workplace.
Participating Universities from around Australia were also rewarded, receiving ABB’s ‘Robot Studio’ software and the opportunity to host on-site design tutorials conducted by ABB staff. First hand feedback from industry on current and future challenges employers expect their graduates to meet was also highly valued.
As the winner of the competition, Chun-Yen has been given the opportunity to complete three months paid work experience with ABB Australia in the robotics division, as well as a trophy for his efforts.