by Mike Liechty, deputy superintendent,
Cache County School District
The Bridgerland Applied Technology College Robot Stem Academy was formed in 2014, thanks to a $500,000 grant awarded by the STEM Action Center of Utah.
The Robot Stem Academy gives students at Mountain Crest High School and Sky View High School the chance to obtain a 900-hour certificate from BATC through classes held at their high school. Students have the opportunity to learn skills such as industrial robot programming, automation, basic electrical principles, microcontrollers, drone aviation, advanced composites, PLC programming and much more.
The Robot STEM Academy was developed using hybrid and distance education systems, leveraging the talents of every instructor at the Bear River regional schools. Early-morning lab classes, originating from BATC, are broadcasted using the Utah Education Network to all six high schools. Duplicate UEN receive sites, labs and equipment are set up at each location.
A live broadcast streams each day from the BATC West Campus, where enrolled students have the opportunity to participate in this interactive activity. Local high school instructors can have their students participate in the broadcast live, or use it as a recording later on.
Upon completion of their certificate, students have multiple options including internship and employment opportunities; continuing their education through an associate or bachelor’s degree; or have the coursework count toward up to 30 credits, the equivalent of about $7,000 in tuition, books and fees.
Robots and additional automation are being quickly added to manufacturing facilities in the Bear River region, which perform welding and pick-and-place operations. The Utah Manufacturers Association and companies such as Autoliv in Brigham City and Tremonton, Pepperidge Farm, Icon Health and Fitness, Gossner Foods, MOM Brands, Schreiber Foods and many others have expressed support for this program and look forward to have local students possibly work at their facilities.
Automated manufacturing in the Bear River area is helping local companies compete on an international level, and the industry is growing rapidly both locally and nationally. Automated manufacturing in the state is high on the list of key industries under the Economic Development Corporation of Utah.