Business Students Visit Amazon Robotics

Merrimack students see robot building and manufacturing floor activity up close during their tour of a local Amazon Robotics manufacturing plant.

Business students recently stepped out of the classroom and onto the Amazon Robotics manufacturing floor during a visit to the company’s North Reading, Massachusetts location.

The students are enrolled in Merrimack’s Introduction to Business class and came to see firsthand how a modern production plant operates.

“We’re trying to give the students a taste of everything that is out there in the business world,” said Michaele Morrow, associate vice president of research and development at the O’Brien Center for Career Development. “I wanted to give them a sense of what happens on the manufacturing floor with the technologies of today.”

Students had the unique opportunity of seeing robots in action. By the time the class of 26 students arrived for its midday tour, the company had already built about 50 robots.   

“Amazon Robotics is creating robots to run Amazon distribution centers,” said Morrow.

Students watched as each robot had to complete a test course and then load itself onto a pallet for shipping.

According to Morrow, every time Amazon opens a new distribution center, it must build at least 5,000 robots to operate. Each robot looks like an oversized Roomba vacuum and is programmed to go from bin to bin collecting products before delivering them to humans who pack boxes for shipping.

The students were amazed by the production plant, said Honors Program Associate Director Lisa Cavallaro, who also attended the tour. Amazon officials gave a thorough tour and talked with the students about market analysis and tracking merchandise orders.

“It was so impressive – it boggles the mind,” Cavallaro said. “Everybody got value out of it.”

The trip was arranged by Brian Berkeley, director of employer relations for the O’Brien Center who went on the tour along with School of Science and Engineering Dean Naira Campbell, Cavallaro and Morrow.