50 students from Lucan Community College and Moate Community School visited the IMR Lab in Mullingar as part of Industry4.E citizen engagement activities during Engineers Week. The students were introduced to what Industry 4.0 is and the different technologies that are being used in Smart Factories. They also took part in a Sustainable Manufacturing workshop, as one of the main goals of these emerging technologies is to make production operate in a flexible, efficient and sustainable way. The various demonstrations were delivered by IMR researchers. Overall, the workshop was successful. Students seemed interested by how objects are made and the impact they have on the environment.
Brendan and Frank, both Robotics interns, ran a robotic demonstration on the UR 3 robot. They showed the students and teachers a pre-programmed operation that involved locating, picking and placing a ball. A short description and some technical information of the robots was described. The fundamental controls of the robot were explained and then each student was given the opportunity to take control of the robot. A short program was then compiled from each of the students’ inputted movements. As this new program was running any questions posed by the students were answered as well as a conversation about the present, and future, of robotics.
The UX Designer Andra ran a Virtual Reality (VR) game with the students and teachers. The game consisted of a desk on which there were several items and the aim was to assemble those pieces into a product. Once they finished assembling the product, they had to place it on another table, and then the game was finished. The main goal of the game was to resemble and show the public how VR can be used in manufacturing companies as a training tool. When possible, Andra talked with few groups about the impact VR can have in different disciplines as well, for instance in education, product design, and architecture. Students showed a lot of interest and seemed to really enjoy the VR experience.
AI - Artificial Intelligence
Students and teachers learnt a bit more about Artificial Intelligence (AI) with Isabel, a Data Analytics Researcher at IMR. She introduced them to the AI and Machine Learning (ML) concepts through three activities. The first one resembled the Image Analytics techniques used by several companies such as Facebook to identify the person in a picture and match it with a name. The other two games were computer based, the first one uses ML to try and guess what the user is drawing while the second one uses Neural Networks to create an association between words, the stronger the association the higher the score the player would get. Students finished the activity understanding that any AI project consists of training a computer to think by itself by giving it loads of data. The computer is then able to make predictions based on this data
Researchers Océane and Beatriz took the students on a tour of the lab where they saw different additive manufacturing systems and applications of additive manufacturing in a diverse range of sectors such as medical devices, construction or even clothing. They ran through the lab seeing the rest of the facilities, including the robotic pipeline, which uses collaborative robots, introduced to the students previously.
Sustainable Manufacturing workshop with Circular Economy Researchers
For the Sustainable Manufacturing workshop, Romain and Dr Adriana, Circular Economy Researchers, started by giving a case study on how chocolate is very unsustainable at the moment (socially, economically and environmentally). And towards the end, they finished on a positive note saying that citizens can indeed make the right choice for the good reasons and distributed chocolate. The price question was raised, answered very well by the Moate teacher. He drew a parallel between the slightly more elevated price to pay for a fair-trade product, and the farmers situation in Ireland who do not get enough money because the price of their products is set at a very low bar. Chocolate distributed was Tony’s Chocolonely.
The chocolate example is powerful because it shows children who are the same age as the students being forced to work with extremely low wages to survive. It allows them to put things into perspective.
Product Life Cycle
Researchers ran a workshop to help the students understand the concept of product life cycle and how impacting it can reduce CO2 emissions and waste. The practical case studies were looking at the examples of cars, mobile phones and blue jeans. Some resources were obtained from the circular classroom project (Finnish project to teach circular economy to secondary/tertiary students).