North Reading, Massachusets-based Teradyne Inc. has loaned Merrimack College and assistant professor Rickey Caldwell Jr. one of its most advanced robots on which students can hone their engineering and mathematical skills in real-world applications.
“It’s a great academic-industry partnership that will benefit students and staff here who can use it for research, said assistant professor Rickey Caldwell Jr. who teaches the senior-level Vibrations and Instrumentation class that is using the robot. “This, basically, is the way students can get the latest technology.”
Teradyne designed the robot about a year ago for testing complex semiconductor chips and it is just now going in production. Caldwell said that his class will be studying ways to enhance the speed and accuracy of machine components, which, when incorporated, would give Teradyne a greater advantage over competitors.
It is a great way for future mechanical engineers to learn the multi-disciplinary skills required by modern automation systems: mechanical hardware, electrical controls, digital signal processing feedback loops, and higher-level control software. The students who take the time to master all these disciplines are at an advantage over those who only study computer science, electrical or mechanical engineering.
“The School of Science and Engineering is excited to partner with Teradyne to provide students with hands-on experience and research opportunities in robotics,” said Dean Cynthia McGowan. “A prototype robot provided by Teradyne will be housed on the second floor of Mendel under the supervision of Dr. Ricky Caldwell, assistant professor of mechanical engineering.”
The robot is the answer to all the students who asked in past math classes growing up when would they ever need to know the material in real life, Caldwell said. Students working on the robot can apply their lessons in such areas as differential equations, mechanical vibrations, numerical simulations and feedback theory.
Teradyne representatives visited Merrimack last year and when Caldwell asked if there were anything his students could work on to use as a capstone project, they offered the robot.