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ECPI University Greenville and PA Solutions partner for robotic training

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ECPI University Greenville and PA Solutions have partnered to help people in the Upstate acquire skills necessary to work with robotic and automated manufacturing systems.

PA Solutions acquired a new, $58,000 Kuka industrial robot for the university’s use on and off campus. PA Solutions employees will serve as adjunct professors, not only working with ECPI University students, but also in the community at large, according to a press release from ECPI University Greenville.

PA Solutions employees, from left, William Lloyd and Keaton Walker, train on the Kuka industrial robot that will be incorporated into classes at ECPI University Greenville. (Photo by Teresa Cutlip)“It is the first time for our Greenville campus to partner with an outside company,” said Karen Burgess, president of ECPI University Greenville, in an interview with GSA Business Report. “This partnership will lead to better qualified graduates. They will be able to move into the labor market and be productive much quicker.”

The major robot platforms being used in industry in the Upstate are Kuka, ABB Robotics and Fanuc, according to David Mothersbaugh, operations manager at PA Solutions in Greenville.

“However, BMW, Volvo Cars, and Mercedes Benz Vans all decided to go with the Kuka KR C4 control for their upcoming installations, so there are literally thousands of these robots being installed in the state,” he said.

The Kuka robot platform has several different applications that are posed more like games for teaching different processes to that robot and exposing students to the different tool applications that they would see in industry, Mothersbaugh said.

Philip Barone, head of the mechatronics program at ECPI University Greenville, said the Kuka robot will be incorporated into at least three different classes.

“Any time we have a piece of equipment that is actually used in industry and we can use it as a training device, then we can produce a better product for industry,” Barone said.

Founded in 1986, PA Solutions is an independent supplier of automation solutions for the chemical and automotive markets, providing electrical, instrumentation and control engineering for the process industry, according to the ECPI release.

The Kuka KR C4 platform is the most current and is being used my most of the large manufacturers in the state, according to Mothersbaugh, “which is why we helped ECPI get this specific platform and its curriculum.”

Burgess said the addition of the Kuka robot will not affect course prices for students.

When PA Solutions is not using the equipment in the classroom, Burgess said ECPI University Greenville will use it to train high school students.

Burgess hopes the partnership with PA Solutions is the first of many for ECPI University Greenville.

From where I sit, this community has a huge need for students who can work in this field, and we are open to working with employer partners to help meet that community need,” she said.

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