Providing the tools today for the jobs of tomorrow

New robotics laboratory puts students on the cutting edge of growing technology industry

By Bob Cunningham

The future is now at BGSU thanks to the new Stephen and Deborah Harris/RIXAN Robotics Laboratory.

Rixan Associates Inc. of Dayton made a donation of assembly robots worth nearly $1 million to the College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering. The late Steve Harris ’73 and his wife, Debbie ’72, wanted to give back to BGSU because they both appreciated the education they received during their time on campus.

Harris, who was owner and president of Rixan until his death in November 2016, was proud to see his company donate more than 10 assembly robots, which are used in making everything from electronics to cars. Each robot costs about $35,000, and software used to program the robots can cost tens of thousands.

The technology is a tremendous resource for BGSU’s new mechatronics engineering technology program, developed to address the workforce need in the advanced manufacturing and robotics technologies, said Dr. Mohammad Mayyas, associate professor of engineering technologies at BGSU.

“This is all very cutting edge stuff: the latest hardware, the latest software, all the tools – that’s what makes it so exciting,” Harris said before his passing. “This is a way of giving back. I’d just like to see students coming out of this program really make a great reputation for Bowling Green.”

The new robotics lab provides BGSU students with significant learning advantages – something current and prospective students recognize.

Cameron Roehl grew up in Bowling Green and decided to stay in town for his collegiate career solely because of this program.

“Not very many schools around the country offer an undergraduate degree related to robotic engineering, so I was super excited to hear that my hometown school was introducing mechatronics,“ he said. “I have been interested in engineering since I was in elementary school, and it is my dream to make robotic engineering my career.”