New Program Launched to Increase Access to Automation Technology

Sept. 30, 2022

By Holly Hinson

Speed School of Engineering will soon be receiving $750,000 to obtain equipment and pilot programs to increase awareness and access to training in robotic and additive manufacturing technology over the next year.

It will allow Louisville Automation and Robotics Research Institute (LARRI) the Additive Manufacturing Institute of Science and Technology (AMIST) and Micro/Nano Technology Center (MNTC) and other centers to purchase additional advanced equipment and introduce future workers to these devices.

Made possible by funding secured by U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth from the U.S. Department of Education, RAMPS aims to address workforce needs in the advanced manufacturing industry sector and enhance employment opportunities for underrepresented groups. “This program will help students excel in the industries of tomorrow,” said Yarmuth. “UofL is a national leader in innovative training programs, and through its RAMPS program, students will have access to the state-of-the-art equipment and training that will best position them to succeed in our rapidly changing workforce.”

Using existing and new equipment and leveraging the knowledge and skills present in the UofL facilities, RAMPS leaders will introduce K-12 students, high school graduates and university students to robotics and additive manufacturing and help train them to use these advanced technologies in the workplace

“We want to make this technology accessible for people or students who don’t necessarily have the advanced technical skills, but they are enthusiastic,” said Dan Popa, director of LARRI and lead for the RAMPS project. “They want to learn about robotics, AI and additive manufacturing, how they are used in industry and what kind of skills you need to operate this type of equipment.”

RAMPS leaders expect around 200 students will be exposed to these technologies in the first year as part of pilot projects, followed by more robust and formalized workforce training programs and curricula to be developed in future years.

“The goal of this program is to help future technicians and engineers prepare for employment in additive manufacturing fields that are both high-paying and growing in need, said Thomas Berfield, co-director of AMIST. Berfield anticipates that AMIST will add equipment used in the aerospace, automotive, dental and biomedical industries, among others.

In addition to training workers, RAMPS will elevate UofL’s programs at LARRI, AMIST and MNTC by further improving the high-quality learning environment within these centers, attracting highly qualified faculty and talented students and increasing opportunities for additional funding.