SCHOOL children have been given a glimpse of the future after becoming the first to experience a brand new hi-tech college facility.
Haughton Academy pupils were among hundreds of Year 10 pupils from Darlington, County Durham and North Yorkshire invited to experience taster sessions at Darlington College.
Those interested in technology and engineering were the very first to use the college’s brand new state of the art robotics laboratory, which is designed to meet the needs of a fast changing world.
College senior lecturer John McCallum showed the pupils how to programme a robot vehicle using coding to make it go forwards, backwards and avoid obstacles using its sensors. They also prepared the vehicles for an end-of-session robot wars.
He said: “The pupils were brilliant and very quick to pick up how to programme the vehicles which use a similar technology to our larger Cobots.”
Haughton Academy student Alan Ozdyk, 15, said: “The new laboratory was amazing. I was really interested in robotics and would love to do the course. Robots are becoming much more popular and I can see a need for people to be trained to maintain them, which is
a possible future career for me.”
Haughton Academy principal Su Gill said: “Much greater emphasis is being placed on science, technology, engineering and maths and our young people are increasingly recognising the value and relevance of these subjects.
“It is great for Darlington schools that we have such easy access to some incredible facilities and teaching at Darlington College which can provide the next step in their learning and equip them for future careers.”
Automation is expected to completely change the labour market with laborious, repetitive tasks taken on by robots that can work 24/7, tirelessly without breaks, thereby reducing overheads and making UK industry more competitive globally.
Darlington College has been at the forefront of development working with contractors and robotics suppliers Cobots Online to develop the latest facilities for learners.
It is aiming to train the next generation of hi-tech workers to meet a skills gap for national and local companies and help businesses install, adapt, programme, maintain and repair the cobots (collaborative robots).
From September students will be able to benefit from a robotics automation training facility, electric vehicle workshop, technical support lab and a business hub for professional qualifications in a major boost for students and apprentices.
The Robotics Lab will include an automated manufacturing production line utilising different types of robotic equipment along the production process.
This follows a successful bid to the Strategic Development Fund for £2.695m. It came on the heels of a £600,000 grant to develop a business hub for professional qualifications.
The cross curriculum taster sessions saw 1,700 schoolchildren visit the college over a five day period.
Darlington College’s marketing and engagement manager Claire Turner said: “They have been given a taste of all our fulltime courses which will start their Year 11 journey by helping them to choose the best GCSEs for them while also offering a glimpse of college life.”