Training Qualified Specialists in Robotics

Training Qualified Specialists in Robotics

Dr. Alexey Rybakov, Director of Astrakhan State Universitys Institute of Research & Solutions to Technological Tasks, has told us about the bachelor program Mechanics & Robotics that is delivered at our University.

“Our University began to train engineers in the field of Robotics seven years ago. At first, it was the five-year specialist program “Robot Systems”; then we launched the bachelor program “Mechanics & Robotics”. The idea to train specialists in this field came to us when we worked with regional shipbuilding companies, which needed robots for welding. At that time, ASU was already delivering the specialty “Welding Fabrication”; our faculty staff had already gained the necessary education and experience. This specialty and our potential specialty “Robot Systems” (accentuating the shipbuilding industry) would be a fine tandem, as we thought then. Our colleagues from Bauman Moscow State Technical University (Russia’s top engineering university) kindly advised us: our management met their specialists in Robotics to learn more about their developments. Special thanks to Professor Arkady Yuschenko, Head of their Chair “Robot Systems”.

As that was a new field of educational activities for us, we faced particular problems, but finally we overcame them all. First of all, we had to tackle the issue of training for our faculty staff. To teach special disciplines, we had to get the relevant education, and so we decided to get it at Bauman Technical University. As we’d already got a higher education in exact sciences (some of us had even two diplomas in this field), we didn’t have to cover some disciplines. We regularly attended lectures and seminars, we took our exams… By the time the first group of our students started their studies in Robotics, we’d already got the necessary education.

We also faced difficulties with equipment that was necessary to train future specialists in Robotics. Now we have the most modern hardware and software. We have laser and cutout machines, tools to make circuit boards, a KUKA welding manipulator, and a 3D printer. All that equipment is expensive, so we’re now searching for grants to purchase other equipment we need.

The Robotics industry is developing actively both in Russia and outside it for the last decade, so there’s a very high demand for specialists in this field. During their studies, our students acquire skills in projecting and programming robot systems (including mobile robots), in controlling them, in developing their own systems for various types of robots, etc. There are already over 10 companies in Astrakhan Region that apply robotized tools for laser and plasma arc welding, coordinated milling tools, welding manipulators, and other equipment for whose maintenance specialists in Robotics are required.

We’re also developing mobile robots to help the Ministry for Civil Defense and Emergencies in fire extinguishing, in fish biting signalization, in land processing, etc. We’re looking forward to having our prototypes ready soon.

Even though Robotics is quite a new field for our University, we already have some serious achievements: a diploma of the 2012 Russian Exhibition of Youth Creativity in Science & Technology for our successful R & D (the name of our project was “Development of Laser Cutting & Carving Tool Controlled Via RS232 Interface”); a golden medal of the Seoul International Invention Fair 2014 (SIIF-2014) for our project “Mobile Flaw-Detecting Robot”; a diploma of the exhibition winner of the Forum “Days of Innovations in Astrakhan Region” (the same project), and a number of our victories in Umnik and Start federal programs that are arranged by the Foundation of Assistance to Small Innovative Enterprises in Science and Technology. Our team “A-Robot” is a regular participant of Eurobot International Students Robotic Contests. In 2014, we took the 4th place at the national tour of Eurobot, thus having outstripped several technical universities from Moscow. We’ll do our utmost to become a top three leader next year, as that’ll give us the right to take part in the European stage of Eurobot.

We have our Center of Viable Technologies in Electronics & Robotics; its main tasks are to execute research projects and back our students’ inventions. The Center unites engineers from such fields as robotics, welding fabrication, ICT, electronics and microelectronics, mechanical engineering, etc. Besides, we work with high school students actively: we teach them fundamentals of Robotics, we discuss their ideas to make a robot, and we help them construct robots. Many young people with whom we work become students of ASU afterwards; they realize their projects during their university studies. We also work with primary school students, who can attend our Robotics Section. I’d remark there are no other sections in Robotics for kids aged 6 to 7 in Astrakhan. It’s necessary to develop creative engineering thinking since an earliest age!”  

Interviewed by T.Yu. Gavrilkina (the Innovative Laboratory of Information Linguistics of ASU)

Russian original photo source: A.V. Rybakov

Translated by E.I. Glinchevskiy (the Center of Translation Studies & Conference Interpreting “ASTLINK” of ASU)