Chevron helping to train students in robotics

Chevron is collaborating with education officials to provide training in robotics to students at vocational and technical colleges to help Thailand develop a workforce with the skills needed for the advanced economy of Thailand 4.0.

The collaboration is taking place under a program named “Chevron Enjoy Science,” and the company’s partner is the Office of the Vocational Education Commission (OVEC). In the project’s first phase, Chevron will give industrial robots to 27 technical colleges for students to use at the cost of nearly $1 million to the company.

“This will enhance vocational students’ skills and allow them to catch up with global challenges,” said Sutat Karnjananonkul, an adviser to Deputy Education Minister Surachet Chaiwong.

Sutat said the fourth industrial revolution is already well underway and Thailand needs to have a workforce ready to compete. Businesses are already demanding workers with skills in robotics and mechatronics, and that demand will undoubtedly be rising every year.

“The robots we provided to vocational schools are called IRB 120. They share the same robotic standard employed by S-Curve and other industries, and this is the first time students can learn from a teaching robot at this grade,’’ said Artit Krichphiphat, general manager for business support at Chevron.

Chevron has conducted a survey of the Thai labor force that found that most vocational school students don’t possess the skills needed to operate many of the machines cutting-edge factories are currently using and are not comfortable with automation. The kinds of robots factories are using today are foreign to them.

The program will teach students how to operate robots and learn in simulations similar to the environments and processes found in many modern factories.

OVEC officials said that factories in Thailand would be adding about 40,000 robots in the near future, and so workers that lack competitive skills or knowledge on how to work with robotics risk not being able to find jobs.

Piyabutr Cholvijarn, president of the Kenan Institute Asia, said Chevron would provide vocational schools in the project with a package comprised of a robot, teaching plan, and teacher’s manual, developed in conjunction with King Mongkut’s University of Technology North Bangkok.

Students will also be taught problem-solving skills and teamwork when using modern technology. “Mechatronics and robotics is a new scientific field, and few technical colleges offer this course,” Piyabutr said.