U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens helping to continue cobot program at Oakland Community College
Congresswoman Haley Stevens, D-Rochester Hills, is hoping that a local advanced technology program will continue at Oakland Community College.
To make sure that happens, Stevens, along with 23 other U.S. representatives, submitted a funding request letter to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies.
According to the letter, $66 million was requested for Fiscal Year 2020 to support the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program, which is funded by the National Science Foundation. The program supports two-year community colleges with the education of technicians for next generation technologies.
The ATE program is the foundation's largest investment in two-year colleges since being created in 1993.
In 2016, Oakland Community College, in partnership with Wayne State University, created the “Learning Program for Cobots in Advanced Manufacturing Systems" after receiving a $309,206 ATE program grant.
The program focuses on the use of cobots, or collaborative robots, in advanced manufacturing systems while working alongside human operators. The program aims to develop critical industry-driven, hands-on learning content for cobot technicians, engineering technologists, and robotic automation teachers and faculty.
The program will remain active until Aug. 31, 2019, but needs FY 2020 ATE program funding in order to continue.
Stevens said ATE program grants help create innovative programs that supply a pipeline of skilled technical workers for U.S. manufacturers.
"Our manufacturers increasingly need employees that possess a combination of skills and understanding of innovation to adopt new technologies," said Stevens. "Recent reports show our manufacturers having a growing skills gap and are finding it difficult to retain talent with the right skills."
The congresswoman serves as chair of the Research and Technology Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, which has jurisdiction over the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technologies.
In addition to Oakland Community College, six other Michigan educational institutions have active grants through the ATE program.