Comau developed e.DO precisely to support and stimulate students' involvement and creativity during in-school and extracurricular learning activities.
Interview with COMAU – The e.DO Experience
Contributed by | e.DO Experience
Tell us a little bit about Comau.
Comau, a member of the FCA Group, is a global market leader in the supply of advanced products and systems for industrial automation, including a vast range of robots developed to help companies exploit the full potential of digital technology in the field of manufacturing.
Despite its industrial nature, however, Comau's main asset is its people and their skills. The Comau Academy has been providing technical and managerial training for internal personnel for over forty years Gradually, Comau began tailoring the activities of this “Learning Factory” to benefit customers outside the company. The Comau Academy now places its experience and know-how at the disposal of others in order to promote the development of a “culture of automation” among students, professionals, manufacturers and public and private organizations. In particular, the Academy's training programs help develop the technical and managerial capacity companies need to overcome the challenges and seize the opportunities of Industry 4.0, with particular reference to the ongoing digital transformation. Thanks to collaboration with leading technical institutes and universities in Italy and abroad, Comau also provides a wide range of training courses. Between 2012 and the present day, over 12,000 people have been taught by a team of more than 320 teachers from inside and outside the company.
What has Comau been doing to spread and develop Robotic culture in young generations?
Through the Academy, Comau is committed to transferring the new skills needed to understand the digital transformation that is now affecting not just industry, but the world at large, to the younger generation. The Academy's main offering includes Master degree courses, from a Master in Manufacturing Automation and Digital Transformation for executives to a Master of Science in Innovation and Technology Management.
One totally unique and innovative approach to personal development is that associated with e.DO, a small, modular, versatile and interactive, open-source robot developed by Comau especially for teaching purposes.
Since 2017, over 6,000 first and second level primary and secondary school pupils have attended Learning Centers featuring e.DO, organized by Comau in conjunction with leading schools and educational foundations. The success of early pilot projects encouraged Comau to develop a dedicated teaching program around e.DO. There are now 6 different e.DO™ Experiences targeting the learning needs of different users.
These projects are complemented by the Diploma in Robotics, a combined school and work course recognized by the Italian Ministry of Education and designed to teach young people how to use and program an industrial robot. Over 4,000 students have already followed these courses to obtain a Diploma.
Tell us about e.DO?
Comau developed e.DO precisely to support and stimulate students' involvement and creativity during in-school and extracurricular learning activities. Thanks to its technical characteristics and its potential for use in teaching contexts, e.DO helps students at all levels learn STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects in a simple, intuitive and entertaining way, and also encourages them to explore the world of robotics in greater depth by acquiring basic robot operating and programming skills. Comau's e.DO™ Experiences are specially designed around the e.DO robot and provide original, fascinating and high-impact teaching. They include e.DO™ Learning Center, e.DO™ Learning Lab, e.DO™ Robotics Licenses, e.DO™ Programs, e.DO™ Events and e.DO™ Corner. All six of these experiences are based on the teaching method promoted by the Comau Academy and built around three fundamental concepts: Action Driven Content, Action Driven Relationships and Action Driven Learning. According to the Comau teaching method, all types and levels of skill can be learned through formal or spontaneous acquisition of content and notions (Action Driven Content), through social interaction, i.e. by sharing experiences and developing emotional ties with others (Action Driven Relationships), and especially through direct action (Action Driven Learning) or "learning by doing", i.e. the completion of real tasks, tests and practical problem solving.
How can e.DO be used in the educational field?
One of Comau's more challenging ambitions for the future is to see all schools, wherever they are in the world, equipped with an e.DO to help with teaching. For example, fully equipped e.DO™ Learning Labs (robotics teaching laboratories) enable teachers to use robotics to deliver effective, practical and exciting lessons to students between the ages of 8 and 19. Each lab is equipped with its own e.DO and all the tools necessary to use it effectively, as well as a library of didAPPs, specially developed applications that help teachers use the technology correctly and effectively. Each didAPP is designed to integrate a particular discipline like robotics, mathematics or coding (artificial intelligence and physics will be added soon) with a specific transversal skill such as teamwork, problem solving or creativity, either in a simulated work environment or in a case study. Irrespective of subject matter, each didAPP comes with a teacher's guide, teaching materials (slides, videos, exercises and evaluation tools), a virtual e.DO viewer and resources for further learning.
An educational robot at school: what is the added value if compared with traditional learning methodologies?
The use of a robot in school offers a number of advantages. Generally speaking, robotics is a fascinating technology, capable of getting students interested, stimulating their curiosity and attention, and achieving learning targets more effectively. The use of e.DO reinforces essential skills in robotics and the STEM subjects and integrates them with soft skills and business culture in an interdisciplinary context. The e.DO™ Experience is an innovative educational platform that offers a pragmatic approach to subject-based learning, reinforcing students' transversal skills, encouraging them to get involved and strengthening the link between their studies at school and life in the real world.
What are the key points students are learning and what feedback are you getting from them?
Thanks to the teaching initiatives of the Comau Academy, young people can experience the business culture that characterizes this fourth industrial revolution, in which a multidisciplinary approach to work and soft skills is becoming increasingly important. Students can see for themselves how large companies operate and learn the skills needed to play a successful role in business development. Such skills include not only excellent technical competency but the ability to solve problems effectively, an innovative working mentality, aptitude for teamwork, punctuality in deadline management and the ability to measure results. Feedback from participants in Comau's teaching activities has been extremely positive so far, from students and from teachers alike. Students who have attended learning programs involving the use of e.DO claim they learned or revised notions in a simpler, more intuitive and entertaining way than in a traditional teaching environment.
According to the teachers involved, e.DO made students far more appreciative of teaching activities. In particular, the robot demonstrates the need to learn "skills" and not just facts. Robot-enhanced teaching also allows students to try out methods generally found only in the world of work. This means they can apply the "scientific method" and mathematical concepts learned in the class to a practical situation from the world of manufacturing. Last but not least, teachers found e.DO a valuable tool for promoting “transversal” learning and for encouraging social interaction and collaboration between students during lessons.
What has the company learned from this project?
The success of the e.DO™ Experience and the positive responses received from learning program participants confirm the tremendous potential for innovation and creativity to be found in young digital natives. The project responds to learning and professional development needs typical of the new generation. In addition, it also demonstrates the value and effectiveness of the teaching model used in Comau and the Comau Academy even in a scholastic context for the teaching of conventional curricular subjects. All the teaching activities described above underscore the need to work in partnership with teaching institutes, universities, schools and local authorities.
Take a look into the future a few years, how do you see robots being used in the classroom?
The world of robotics is experiencing a revolution equivalent to that seen in information technology in the 1980s and 1990s, when computers turned from sophisticated and complex machines into easy-to-use and readily accessible tools. Until recently, robots have been considered difficult to operate and program without special skills. e.DO is conclusive proof that this is no longer the case and that robots can be used intuitively by teenagers and even younger children in learning and other daily activities. We can look forward to a prosperous future for robotics, provided, of course, that we seize all the opportunities presented by innovative technologies and digital transformation. With this in mind, Comau's projects are always characterized by two fundamental values: continuous technological innovation to help mankind overcome the challenges of digitalization, and the valorization of people and their professional and cultural skills. Comau is convinced that only human experience, whatever the field, can produce the solutions needed to achieve transformation and progress. Our e.DO™ Experiences fully reflect this approach and have turned e.DO into a robotics ambassador to the world.
The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of RoboticsTomorrow
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