If you think working with robots is a job for the future, think again. Wake Tech now has three collaborative robots, or “co-bots,” which are light, industrial robots designed to work alongside humans. They must be programmed and operated by technicians with specialized skills – and Wake Tech’s Collaborative Robotics program, developed with industry partners, provides those skills. The program is funded by a generous Robotics Awake grant from the National Science Foundation and includes three stackable certificates: Collaborative Robotics Technician I, II, and Programmer.

Adeline Surface

“Students coming out of the Collaborative Robotics program have a range of valuable skills that are transferrable to any manufacturing job,” says Jerry Pedley, whose company, Mertek Solutions, Inc., utilizes co-bots. Pedley serves on an advisory board of local employers that helps to keep the training program in line with local workforce needs.

By 2026, North Carolina is projected to add more than 389,000 manufacturing jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics – and manufacturing plants rely increasingly on co-bots. Skilled workers are needed to repair and program these machines.

“I like that the Collaborative Robotics program is hands on – and not always in front of a computer,” says Adeline Surface, who is working to complete the Technician II Certificate. She has an Associate in Science degree from Wake Tech and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Appalachian State University. Surface volunteered at an event where school-age kids interacted with Wake Tech’s YuMi, a co-bot built by ABB. Now she wants to find a job introducing co-bots to the public. “I love how easy they are to manipulate,” she says, “and that they give you immediate feedback.”

Ready to learn skills for the jobs that employers are eager to fill? Visit robotics.waketech.edu for more information about Wake Tech’s non-credit Collaborative Robotics program.