There is no sugar coating the fact that the robotics industry suffered from the Great Recession but there are some bright spots. RIA’s Director of Market Analysis, Paul Kellett, presented detailed statistics during the Robotics Industry Forum and they show the industry has contracted. However, he also highlighted areas where spending has increased such as in the food sector, which RIA has identified as a priority to help members and new users get connected.
Another priority for the Association is to focus more attention on educational institutions that teach practical robotics. RIA’s Membership Committee is working on new ways to serve academia with guidance from Professor Jim Devaprasad of Lake Superior State University’s (LSSU, Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan) School of Engineering and Technology, and Director of its Robotics Center.
Interesting predictions were made at the Forum in January 2010, and one to bank on is that students will shape our future workforce and they will need greater technical skill-sets to succeed professionally. Helping them will help the robotics industry and bolster the ranks of engineers needed to keep the U.S. at the forefront of global business trends.
Robotics already serves as a unifying theme to attract students to engineering as noted during the Robotics Industry Forum by Rodney Brooks, Chairman and CTO, Heartland Robotics. He used several observations to support this position: 1) robotics is used to teach engineering at the college level; 2) it is used at the high school level in concert with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs for teachers and students through the U. S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation and other agencies; 3) is the centerpiece of the largest national science competition in the U.S. (i.e. the FIRST Robotics Competition).
RIA’s number-one priority is to foster and highlight systems integrators with world-class credentials. Focus groups have been held to consider new ways to distinguish RIA systems integrator members that adhere to best practices for project management, safety and ethics. Not only was there a focus group to investigate what users want from integrators, but RIA is one of the few trade associations that accepts end users as members. In fact, users are so important to RIA they have seats on the Board to ensure their voice is heard.
Once a year the most influential leaders of the robotics industry meet for VIP-level networking during the Robotics Industry Forum, and this year was the start of several new Association initiatives. For the first time ever, the Forum was held in conjunction with Business Conferences held by the Automated Imaging Association and the Motion Control Association. Even before the combined event started, the Association ran a focus group with end users for input on how to bring more value to its members.
Visit the membership section of Robotics Online to see how you can be involved in the important work RIA started this year. Robotic Industries Association is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the President, Jeff Burnstein, and all the Association staff welcomes your input on how we can revitalize the industry.
Office phone: 734/994-6088
Web: Robotics Online (www.robotics.org)