Robotics training helps depot prepare for future
From left, electronics mechanics Adam Plesnarski, Christopher Meyers and Ian Haslam check the program operation of a tracked robot and wirelessly controlled robot during a robotics training class at Tobyhanna Army Depot, Pa.

TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. (Aug. 30, 2012) -- The Business Management Directorate's Technical Development Division here now offers introductory classes in robotics to train employees on a future workload that may one day call the depot home.

Because more robotics equipment is deploying to the field, the military recognized the need for a primary overhaul and repair facility. Division chief Lynwood Turlington said that by offering this class, the depot has positioned itself well to receive this workload.

"The opportunity to add a robotics workload to the depot is here," he said. "Tobyhanna has the training in place and is ready to welcome such a mission."

The extensive three-week training focuses on robotic programming and the variety of tasks that robots now accomplish. Training instructor Mark Butler says the course length is necessary to cover "advanced theory" and perform "realistic lab exercises."

Hands-on training is provided through the use of three Lab-Volt Servo Robot Training Systems, allowing students to experience how robots can be programmed to perform many functions.

After learning how to use and control the robotic arms, students move on to build and program mobile robots, a tracked vehicle and a wireless-controlled robot that functions similarly to a human. Depot employees who have completed the program say it is a great course providing helpful knowledge going forward.

"The robotics class is an excellent addition to the outstanding classes Tobyhanna already offers," said Joseph Galada, an electronics mechanic who completed the Introduction to Robotics course in June. "The program has set me up to handle a future workload of robotics equipment. With robotics missions increasing by the day, it's imperative that the depot trains its employees to be ready for a robotics workload."

Christopher Meyers, electronics mechanic in the Command, Control and Computers/Avionics Directorate's Business Automated Test Equipment Repair Branch, said the training provides helpful skills and gives employees a look into what the future may hold.

"The class taught us how robots and drones could be used to perform jobs that are too strenuous for humans to perform," explained Meyers. "In some cases, robots can ensure humans stay out of harm's way. This is important for our workforce going into the future because it presents the opportunity for the depot to bring in a workload that plays a large role in assisting today's warfighters."

Meyers completed the Introduction to Robotics program in May.

Since the program began in April, 17 depot employees have completed the training with an additional nine set to finish the course by the end of this month. The division also offers advanced electronics courses including radar, electronic warfare principles, modern digital communications, microwave fundamentals, antennas and phased arrays, and receivers and transmitters.

Tobyhanna Army Depot is the Defense Department's largest center for the repair, overhaul and fabrication of a wide variety of electronics systems and components, from tactical field radios to the ground terminals for the defense satellite communications network. Tobyhanna's missions support all branches of the Armed Forces.

About 5,400 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, or CECOM.

Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., the command's mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.

Page last updated Thu August 30th, 2012 at 11:16