Northfield Automation Systems recently donated parts and mechanical and electronic components to the Northfield High School robotics team. Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Principal Engineer Dr. Gary Larsen and Controls Engineer Tim Valley are hopeful that this donation sparks a greater passion for engineering in students.
Sparking a Passion
Discussing the impact of engineering on students’ futures, Valley explains, “The more parts students can get their hands on, the better. When I was young, a man from the telephone company brought me a box of what most people would call ‘junk.’ I spent hours taking apart the pieces and attempting to put them back together. It was tinkering with different kinds of equipment that led me into the field of engineering. Taking something apart is one of the best ways to see how it works and what makes it tick.”
“Northfield Automation Systems wanted to get components into the hands of local students that they may not otherwise have the chance to experiment with. Our hope is that having access to these items leads to the desire for some of Northfield’s high schoolers to consider a future in engineering,” Valley adds.
Preparing for the Future
The importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) classes is more prevalent today than ever before. Between 2017 and 2027, the number of STEM jobs will grow 13 percent, compared to nine percent for non-STEM jobs. Jobs in computing, engineering and advanced manufacturing are projected to be the fastest growing occupations for the foreseeable future. Joining STEM-related teams and taking STEM-focused classes, like robotics, can help prepare students for careers in this rapidly growing market.
The Northfield High School robotics team is a member of the FIRST Robotics community, a not-for-profit public charity created to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. Northfield High School FIRST Robotics Advisor Mark Woitalla says, “Northfield Automation Systems has been supportive of our team over the years. We are grateful for the companies and individuals in our community that lend us a hand, both financially and through mentorship. It is important for our students to see the real-world impact engineering has on lives, and the support we get from community members like Northfield Automation Systems makes that possible for us.”
About Northfield High School FIRST Robotics Team
The Northfield High School robotics team competes against teams from all over Minnesota and the country, in the annual FIRST Robotics Competition. The FIRST Robotics Competition is an international high school robotics competition. Each year, teams of high school students, coaches, and mentors work during a six-week period to build game-playing robots that weigh up to 120 pounds. Outside of this six-week build period, Northfield robotics team members meet weekly, throughout the school year, to strengthen their engineering and teambuilding skills. From fundraising to programming, robotics students are responsible for a number of tasks that are vital to a successful season.
About Northfield Automation Systems
Northfield Automation Systems, Inc. designs, engineers and fabricates automation machinery for Original Equipment Manufacturers and high-volume manufacturers. A leader in turnkey solutions, Northfield Automation System’s machinery ensures product quality, maximizes efficient throughput, delivers meaningful data outputs and is user-friendly for operators. Northfield Automation Systems is a global leader in sensitive material handling technology for flexible and rigid electronics, designs and builds automated in-line vision inspection systems that can be customized to work within any product manufacturing process.