Summer Camp – “Smart (and not-so-smart) Manufacturing”

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On Monday of this week, 60 eager secondary school students spent two days on campus in the University of Limerick as part of the Faculty of Science  Engineering Summer Camp.

The aim of the camp was to illustrate the broad range of STEM courses offered by UL and to give the students a taste of what studying in UL can offer.

As part of the programme CONFIRM ran a workshop entitled “Smart (and not-so-smart) Manufacturing”. The aim of the workshop was to illustrate just how much the manufacturing industry has evolved over the years and to make students aware of the fantastic opportunities that a career in manufacturing could bring.

The workshop began with a brief overview of manufacturing throughout the ages; from the introduction of steam power right up to cyber-physical systems, robotics and industrial internet f things (IIoT). The students were then divided into teams for a challenge. The students had to conceptualise, design and construct a model of a machine that could perform a simple task (to either push, pull, lift or grab something) on a factory floor. The “machine” had to have at least 1 moving part. For the challenge, we took them right back to basics; the only materials they had to work with were:

  • Lollipop sticks
  • Rubber bands
  • String
  • Thumbtacks
  • Glue

The workshop concluded with each team presenting and demonstrating their machine to the rest of the group and the results were amazing!

The levels of creativity and ingenuity were inspiring with nearly all of the teams successfully creating a working machine to perform the required task (Examples below)

During the workshop, each student also got the opportunity to work with and programme a robotic arm, work with ultrasonic and colour sensors and chat to some Confirm researchers to learn about what they do.

Well done to all the students who took part – if the future of Science and Engineering is in your hands, it will be a very bright future indeed!!

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