UofM’s Herff College of Engineering Receives In-Kind Donation from Yaskawa America, Inc., FedEx and Eaton

Feb. 15, 2021 — The Department of Engineering Technology in the University of Memphis’ Herff College of Engineering announces the donation of two Yaskawa HC10 collaborative robots from Yaskawa America, Inc., for use in both undergraduate and graduate-level applied robotics classes. 

In addition to the donation from Yaskawa America, Inc., the robots were shipped in-kind by FedEx from Miamisburg, Ohio, and will be powered by Eaton, a national provider of uninterruptable power supply systems and equipment.

The collaborative robots, also known as “cobots,” employ advanced robotics technology and enhanced safety features that enable cobots to work alongside the traditional human workforce, not replace it. Collaborative robots perform repetitive actions and motions that often lead to workplace injury and enable the workforce to focus on creative problem-solving. 

Yaskawa Senior Manager for Strategic Partner Relations, Clint Chapman, stated that it was “Yaskawa’s belief and support of education and the University of Memphis that lead to the donation of the two robots when they became available.” He went on to say that “if we can support our local partners and higher education and be able to help the local workforce, it is a win for everyone involved.”

“The overwhelming support by Yaskawa, FedEx and Eaton couldn’t have come at a more opportune time,” said Dr. Kevin Berisso, assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Technology, who teaches applied robotics classes at the University of Memphis. “As our country continues to address the challenges of COVID-19, our ability to graduate students with real hands-on experience using collaborative robotics will allow them to enter the future workforce ready to contribute from day one. National publications including the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Forbes and others recognize that the use of collaborative robotics is playing a large part in our nation’s ability to cope with COVID. Now, we have the ability to train students and the local workforce on this equipment. Really train them, not just talk about it.”

“We are very appreciative of the donation from Yaskawa America, Inc., that will enhance our hands-on robotics offerings to students,” said Dr. Rick Sweigard, Dean of the Herff College of Engineering. “We are committed to providing our students the education and tools needed to help companies solve problems today, with solutions that are current, practical and realistic.” 

In addition to the undergraduate educational opportunities, the donation will prove to be an excellent resource for the Advanced Automation and Robotics Center that the $1 million Department of Labor grant kickstarted in late September 2020. According to Mr. Aaron Prather of FedEx, “this was an excellent way to help the University and the Greater Memphis community, to help get those who are unemployed and underemployed to improve their quality of life.”

Brian Burks of Eaton added, “we have been looking for a way to work with the University of Memphis’ Automation and Robotics efforts, so we were excited to be able to help ensure that quality training, on state-of-the-art equipment, was occurring within the Memphis region.”