This month’s Five Questions interview features ARM Member Corey Adams, Educational Program Manager at Universal Robots! Corey helps to guide the ARM Institute’s Education & Workforce Development (EWD) strategy through his work on our Education & Workforce Development Advisory Committee. He has also participated in our Endorsement Program when the ARM Institute evaluated and endorsed a robotics training program offered by Universal Robots.
In this piece, Corey discusses how he got started in the robotics industry, his advice for transitioning military members, his experience with the ARM Institute Endorsement process, Universal Robots training programs, and more!
1. Can you tell us about your background and your role at Universal Robots? How did you get started working in the robotics industry?
When I left the military, I found myself unexpectedly drawn to the robotics industry. A robotics integrator headhunter reached out to me about a project manager role, even though I had no prior experience with robotics. However, I was so enthusiastic about the opportunity that I spent weeks studying different types of robots and manufacturers. Working alongside skilled individuals who integrated robotics for some of the world’s largest manufacturers from welding to Hollywood, I had the chance to work on challenging yet exciting projects.
My time at the integrator was so enjoyable that I decided to stay in the industry. However, I wanted to become more involved in shaping tomorrow’s future. As a result, I began volunteering with local schools and universities, highlighting how robotics and automation can open up new and exciting career paths. What started as volunteer work soon became an essential part of my career.
After working as a Sales Development Manager for almost four years at Universal Robots, I was given the opportunity to become the Educational Program Manager. In this role, I could take what we were doing in the industry to support tomorrow’s engineers in the classroom. Seeing students and adults change their lifestyles thanks to the education we could provide was exciting and fulfilling. It makes me proud to be part of Universal Robots.
2. What advice do you have for military members transitioning to civilian life who might be considering a move to robotics but don’t know where to start?
While transitioning from military service to a career in robotics may seem daunting, it’s worth noting that your skills in problem-solving, teamwork, and adaptability can be highly valuable in the industry. If you’re unsure of where to start, consider identifying which aspects of robotics interest you the most, such as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, software engineering, integration, and programming. In my case, I found that integration appealed to me because it allowed me to showcase my problem-solving skills and creative thinking to solve customer issues.
To prepare for a career in robotics, it’s important to research the field and companies thoroughly to gain a better understanding of available job opportunities and the required skills. It’s also worth noting that replacing the camaraderie you shared with your shipmates may be challenging, so it’s essential to leverage social media and LinkedIn to connect with industry professionals, including manufacturers and local integrators. By visiting their facilities, you can gain hands-on experience and a better understanding of how the industry works.
Additionally, pursuing education or training in the field through universities, vocational schools, or specialized training programs can provide valuable certifications, practical experience, and hands-on training that can help you secure a job in the exciting field of automation and robotics. Remember, your military training and mindset can also be an asset in the robotics industry, so don’t be afraid to use them to your advantage.
3. Universal Robots has a training program that has been Endorsed by the ARM Institute. Can you tell us what the ARM Endorsement process was like for you? What did you learn by going through the Endorsement evaluation?
Competency-based training is essential when it comes to educating individuals about robotics and automation. For Universal Robots, going through the ARM endorsement training was an excellent initial step in offering an educational platform that meets the industry’s needs. During this process, we realized that participants needed to understand basic foundational concepts related to robotics and automation.
It was crucial for us to take an agnostic approach to education. Instead of product training, we focused on providing foundational competency training to build a more well-rounded understanding of automation and robotics for our students. This approach ensures that our students are better equipped to handle the challenges of working with different robotics and automation products across the industry.
4. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the manufacturing workforce?
For both manufacturers and employees, it’s crucial to have a proper understanding of available products and services in the automation and robotics industry. First and foremost, we believe that certified training is essential for developing competencies in automation and robotics. This approach emphasizes foundational knowledge rather than specific user or product training.
Secondly, we want to make manufacturers aware of the services that are available to them. This can range from local Job and Family Services sponsoring training events for new employees to Manufacturing Extension Partnerships and non-profits running automation and robotics bootcamps while also offering integration support. By leveraging these resources, manufacturers can equip their employees with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the industry.
5. You are a member of the ARM Institute’s Education & Workforce Development Advisory Committee (EWAC), which helps to guide the Institute’s education and workforce priorities. Can you tell us about the EWAC, what you work on through the Committee, and the value you’ve found in participating?
It was such an honor to be nominated in 2020 to join the ARM’s Institute’s Education & Workforce Development Advisory Committee (EWAC). Through the EWAC committee, we work on various initiatives such as identifying education and training gaps, developing workforce strategies, establishing industry partnerships. I can share our perspective on the industry’s needs and challenges and work collaboratively with others on the committee to develop solutions. The value of participating in the committee is that members can work together to influence the direction of education and workforce development for tomorrow workforce.
Bonus Question: Finally, can you tell us more about Universal Robots?
Universal Robots has been actively expanding its product range — the new UR20 cobot with 44.1 lbs payload and 68.9” reach is the latest example — while also introducing innovative software features to enhance the functionality and user experience of its cobots. The UR+ ecosystem, that certifies 3rd party products and application kits to be seamlessly compatible with UR cobots, now include no less than 440 products from 330 partners.
We continue to evolve our educational offerings as well; besides our in-class room programs, we offer online training through the UR Academy available in 16 languages. With more than 179,000 users from 130+ countries, the UR Academy is now the world’s largest, most comprehensive training platform for cobots. We recently launched a new 3D simulation-based training through the UR Academy that takes place in a real-time environment, where participants program a virtual robot to perform common tasks. All participants are located remotely and get online access to their own virtual environments with a robot and peripherals such as sensors, conveyors, and various end-effectors.
Want to learn more?
For more insights from Corey Adams and information about Universal Robots’ training programs, check out the recording of our recent webinar on Using Augmented & Virtual Reality for Robotics Training & Assessment.
For more information about ARM Institute Endorsement, insights into robotics career pathways in manufacturing, and access to our national database of robotics training programs, go to our national workforce resource RoboticsCareer.org.
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ABOUT THE ARM INSTITUTE
The Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Institute is a Manufacturing Innovation Institute (MII) funded by the Office of the Secretary of Defense under Agreement Number W911NF-17-3-0004 and is part of the Manufacturing USA® network. The ARM Institute leverages a unique, robust, and diverse ecosystem of 390+ consortium members and partners across industry, academia, and government to make robotics, autonomy, and artificial intelligence more accessible to U.S. manufacturers large and small, train and empower the manufacturing workforce, strengthen our economy and global competitiveness, and elevate national security and resilience. Based in Pittsburgh, PA since 2017, the ARM Institute is leading the way to a future where people & robots work together to respond to our nation’s greatest challenges and to produce the world’s most desired products. For more information, visit www.arminstitute.org and follow the ARM Institute on LinkedIn and Twitter.