Young engineers get the robot bug

Industrial Robot

ISSN: 0143-991x

Article publication date: 1 August 2004




(2004), "Young engineers get the robot bug", Industrial Robot, Vol. 31 No. 4.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Young engineers get the robot bug

Young engineers get the robot bug

Keywords: Robots, Education, ABB

ABB recently teamed up with the LEGO Educational Division at RAF Stafford, to support a 2-day event organised by Setpoint Staffordshire which gives young engineers an insight into the world of robotics (Plate 2).

Given the task of assembling two robots from a LEGO® Mindstorms for Schools™ kit and then programming them to follow a defined route and a series of commands, the Year 9 pupils, from various schools in the Staffordshire area, surprised themselves with the skill and aplomb which they applied to the task.

Plate 2 Youngsters get to grips with robot programming at the Setpoint Staffordshire event at RAF Stafford

The teams each built and programmed “intelligent” robots using exactly the same LEGO kits that are used by undergraduate students undergoing robot studies at Staffordshire University. The young engineers had to download information from a PC to a “brick” – essentially a plastic cube incorporating a programmable chip – to control an electric motor and respond to sensors mounted on the robot.

ABB Automation Technologies Division was also on hand with examples from its robot range, which provided a direct correlation between the models assembled by the young engineers and sophisticated robots used in all spheres of industry.

A low-key competition was organised between the “roboteers” each day and this was judged by David Marshall, ABB Business Manager – Robotics. All the teams, however, took away LEGO® Mindstorms for Schools™ kits to develop further their own robot projects.

Mr Marshall comments: “ABB puts top priority on supporting and encouraging youngsters to consider a career in engineering. ABB needs enthusiastic and committed engineers going forward to develop the next generation of technologies for our customers”.

Setpoint Staffordshire, based at Staffordshire University, encourages all young people to participate in Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) and is the accredited STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) contact under the national SETNET network, comprising 51 individual Setpoints covering all of Great Britain.

Setpoint Staffordshire's Senior Projects Support Officer Tony Homer said: “Today is not a 'one-off', but a series of events to demonstrate to pupils the advantages of a career in modern manufacturing or engineering. Pupils have a perception that engineering is boring and old fashioned, and this is reflected in many of them wanting to work in what is seen as more 'glamorous' occupations – the travel industry, for example. At Setpoint, we are redressing the balance, showing that engineering is interesting, rewarding, and most of all, fun!”

For more information on Setpoint's activities visit the Web site:

For further information contact: David Marshall, ABB Automation Technologies Division, Auriga House, Precedent Drive, Rooksley, Milton Keynes MK13 8PQ. Tel: +44 (0) 1908 350300; Fax: +44 (0) 1908 350301; E-mail:

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