MASON CITY — North Iowa Area Community College has been awarded its first National Science Foundation grant to help with robotics.
The college says the $300,000 Advanced Technological Education grant will be used over the next three years to embed new robotics technology into the school’s manufacturing programs. NIACC will be introducing and testing a new National Coalition of Certification Centers credential in Robotics Fundamentals as one piece of the project, with the National Science Foundation recognizing this work as a groundbreaking educational opportunity for students at the community college level.
The project, called “NextGen Technicians: Addressing Industry Demand for Robotics”, will start on June 1st, with the goal being increasing the number of industrial technicians in the workforce, all of who will be skilled in robotics. As the largest workforce sector in north-central Iowa, manufacturing has exhibited robust job growth over the last five years.
A spring 2018 survey of regional manufacturers conducted by NIACC confirmed the need for more industrial technicians in general, and because interest and investment in robotics is also increasing, respondents also indicated a strong need for technicians with a basic robotics education.