SolarWorld solar blog

High school robotics teams tour SolarWorld's automated solar manufacturing facility

Posted 4/30/2012 by Steve Pecis, Head of Cell Manufacturing, SolarWorld Industries Americas

"OK, I was never that smart as a teenager. . ."

That was my lingering thought as I left work last Saturday. I had just finished touring a group of high school kids from FIRST Robotics through our factory.

high school robotics team visits SolarWorld for tour of automated manufacturing facility
Andreas Lewinski, head of SolarWorld's new robotics training room, works with a potential future employee (minus the hat) on a 6-axis training robot.

FIRST Robotics (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), is an international high school robotics program and competition. Each year, student teams have six weeks to build a robot from scratch to accomplish a designated challenge. This year’s challenge was to shoot basketballs through hoops of various heights. The teams designed, built and then put their creations into competition to see how they stacked up against world-wide competitors.

high school robotics team visits SolarWorld for tour of automated manufacturing facility
Marvin Talbert, Head of Moduling, catches a basketball tossed by the robot designed by one of the visiting teams.

Colton. Beaverton. Oregon City. Philomath. Portland. Robo-kids from all over northern Oregon showed up to see our SolarWorld industrial robots in action. And maybe get a few ideas for their own robotic designs.

Joe Duncan, SolarWorld's moduling production manager, shows the robotics team from Beaverton our moduling process
Joe Duncan, SolarWorld's moduling production manager, shows the robotics team from Beaverton our moduling process.

Right away I knew this wouldn’t be a typical tour. “Tell me about the optical inspection system you use to find broken wafers.” “Have you considered using lateral pressure and thermal treatment to re-shape the silicon crystal closer to the desired final shape before cutting?” “What is your MTBI?” (That’s Mean Time Between Interrupt for those of you who don’t have a teen robo-whiz at home).

Wow.

Don’t believe the collective wisdom that we can’t or won’t compete in the world of high-tech manufacturing. I had a glimpse of the future Saturday morning, and it looks awfully bright.

Robotics coach and three students get a glimpse into the automation processes involved in making solar panels
Robotics coach and three students get a glimpse into the automation processes involved in making solar panels.

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