Lawrence Tech celebrates opening of state-of-the-art robotics and factory automation laboratory

What’s happening: The future became the present on the Southfield campus of Lawrence Technological University late last month as the school held an opening dedication ceremony for its new million-dollar-plus robotics and factory automation laboratory. The state-of-the-art lab embraces Industry 4.0 technologies, the “fourth industrial revolution” that utilizes the Internet of Things, AI, and other technologies to reshape manufacturing for the 21st century.

What it is: Officially called the Rockwell Automation/McNaughton-McKay Electric Co. I4.0 Robotics and Industrial Automation Laboratory, the new lab will provide LTU industrial engineering and computer science students with the technology and equipment necessary for designing, running, and optimizing the world’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities. The lab includes industrial robots, an intelligent customizable moving assembly line, intelligent inspection technology, and associated software.

How they did it: LTU partnered with Rockwell Automation and McNaughton-McKay Electric Co. to fund and build the laboratory, and both those companies’ equipment and technologies are utilized throughout. The lab also features technology and equipment from other metro Detroit-based companies including KUKA, Detect-It, and Deepview.

Why it’s important: “This lab is a beacon for your educational students and a vehicle for your students and the larger community to understand what the future will be like…This is something no other university, no other campus, has done,” Larry Smentowski, global automotive director of Rockwell Automation, said at the dedication ceremony held Wednesday, Jan. 25.

Elsewhere on campus: That’s not the only good news coming out of Lawrence Tech this past week. The school also celebrated receiving a $450,000 grant from the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation for their Centropolis Accelerator, a manufacturing small business accelerator founded in partnership with the City of Southfield. The news comes just weeks after LTU announced that Centropolis received a $150,000 grant from Breakthrough Energy Partners, founded by Bill Gates, in December.

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.