Fanning the flame of innovation in youth is the responsibility of every company, especially those in the manufacturing trades. As many of today’s skilled tradespeople move closer toward retirement, the industry needs to be proactive instead of reactive. For Felling Trailers, this takes many different forms including partnering with area schools in a Careers in the Community program, where high school juniors and seniors can learn the trade of welding, office administration, and marketing. The program offers welding camps to girls and boys ages 12-18, manufacturing tours to high school and college level students and sponsorship of trade-related programs and teams.
Today, a good amount of innovation and progress seen in manufacturing is intertwined with technology and the field of robotics. That’s why Felling Trailers, Inc. is a proud supporter of the area school's Robotics Teams.
"As a manufacturer, we know how robotic automation can impact production processes,” said Brenda Jennissen CEO. “We see first-hand the kinds of job opportunities that those individuals with robotics backgrounds will have as members of the workforce. Supporting these area teams the last several years is one way we can be good stewards in our communities and the future of our industry,"
In early April, the UC-Botics Team from Upsala High School came to the company to give a demonstration of the robot that the team had built and competed with earlier that year. Each year, the team competes in the FIRST (For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology) Robotics Competition (FRC), where they work with and against other teams to accomplish a task. The competition usually consists of two alliances each made up of multiple different teams. The game changes every season, introducing different concepts of scoring and competing.
During their visit, the UC-Botics team explained the process they went through to come up with their competition robot. Throughout a six-week period, teams consisting of high school students, coaches and mentors work together to build a robot. Teams are given a standard set of parts; they are also allowed a budget and are encouraged to buy, make, or recycle parts from previous robot builds. "We started from scratch this time around," said Curtis Robertson, the UC-Botics team's instructor.
“It's a team effort all the way; everyone plays a part in the construction of the robot. There's a lot of brainstorming and trial and error," said one of the team members. Some participants excel when it comes to the programming side, while others may excel in engineering and construction.
"The opportunity that our area Robotics Teams provide to the students to work and create together and compete with other teams to solve a common problem in an ever-changing environment is so valuable. The ingenuity, creativity and teamwork that programs like this inspire in students is priceless,” said Jennissen.