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From tech startups to robotics courses, to school programs and summer camps—we are witnessing the rise of the robots and roboticists in Northwest Arkansas. Check out some of the recent news and regional happenings below!

Cover photo: Mural by artist Jason Jones in Fayetteville, AR

NW Arkansas Robotics Startups and Teams Garner Domestic and Worldwide Recognition

Robotics startups and teams are causing a stir in Northwest Arkansas: AMBOTS, MORE Technologies, and a Springdale robotics team are making waves in the region by receiving awards, getting shout outs from tech giants, and catching the eye of consumers.

AMBOTS—an advanced manufacturing startup that specializes in swarm 3D printing and assembly—has recently received praise from GE in their article “The 5 Coolest Things On Earth This Week” for their incredible work “at the intersection of 3D printing and swarm robotics” (GE). AMBOTS is a startup that emerged out of a research project at the University of Arkansas Department of Mechanical Engineering and it works through “the notion that many robots are better than one, and that bots working in swarms can complete tasks faster and more efficiently” (GE).

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MORE Technologies is another success story that has sprung from the University of Arkansas: The robotics startup was started by the 21-year-old computer science major Canon Reeves in Fayetteville in April 2018. This startup has since made great strides with the company generating revenue within two weeks of starting business and now having successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign. The 161 Kickstarter backers contributed $21,711 to the company over 40 days; this contribution “allowed backers to order the company’s 3D printed robot, MOREbot, at a discounted price” (Talk Business).

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Reeves with Adam Savage from MythBusters
Reeves with Adam Savage from MythBusters

MORE Technologies is another success story that has sprung from the University of Arkansas: The robotics startup was started by the 21-year-old computer science major Canon Reeves in Fayetteville in April 2018. This startup has since made great strides with the company generating revenue within two weeks of starting business and now having successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign. The 161 Kickstarter backers contributed $21,711 to the company over 40 days; this contribution “allowed backers to order the company’s 3D printed robot, MOREbot, at a discounted price” (Talk Business).

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But Reeves and his co-founders aren’t stopping there—they’ve carried their success over to yet another startup, Flip, which they were able to jumpstart through the help of the NWA Startup Weekend: an event “designed to foster education for up-and-coming entrepreneurs”. Flip is a 3D printer that stands out from the competition: “Instead of a limited printer with only one head, Flip uses multiple heads—as many as 16 in total … [which] significantly reduces the amount of time required to mass produce a particular product” (AMP). According to AMP, the idea for Flip came to Reeves and his partners on a road trip because they “were having the same problems, other companies probably were as well” and Flip was the solution.

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A Springdale robotics team has also been making headlines, showing that even the youngest engineers can achieve incredible success. The Root Negative One competitive robotics team, coached by the University of Arkansas engineering faculty members, has “received the Inspire Award, the top judged award at the 2018-2019 FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship” (UARK Newswire). Root Negative One was “one of the top two teams among the more than 7,000 FIRST Tech Challenge teams worldwide that competed in the 2018-2019 season,” states the University of Arkansas Newswire. On top of this, Root Negative One has just been chosen “to represent the United States at an international competition this fall” in Dubai, in what senior Abby Herrera has called “the robotics Olympics” (NWA Online). We will be rooting for you, Root Negative One!

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A Springdale robotics team has also been making headlines, showing that even the youngest engineers can achieve incredible success. The Root Negative One competitive robotics team, coached by the University of Arkansas engineering faculty members, has “received the Inspire Award, the top judged award at the 2018-2019 FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship” (UARK Newswire). Root Negative One was “one of the top two teams among the more than 7,000 FIRST Tech Challenge teams worldwide that competed in the 2018-2019 season,” states the University of Arkansas Newswire. On top of this, Root Negative One has just been chosen “to represent the United States at an international competition this fall” in Dubai, in what senior Abby Herrera has called “the robotics Olympics” (NWA Online). We will be rooting for you, Root Negative One!

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Northwest Arkansas Regional Robotics Training Center Launches in Fayetteville

“The program is open to anyone who is ready to step up, work hard, and not just prepare for the future, but to help build the future.”

NWA Regional Robotics Training Center

Did you know there were 4,000 FANUC (Fuji Automatic Numerical Control) robots within a 250-mile radius of Fayetteville? And now the education needed to operate them will be available in the region.

The newly-minted Northwest Arkansas Regional Robotics Training Center has recently opened its doors to offer a 32-hour program that will provide both “local Arkansans as well as visitors from around the country” the training and certification to fill the huge demand for these skilled professionals in the field (NWA Robotics). The training center “is a partnership between the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce and NWACC. At the end of the week-long course, students can earn certification as a FANUC robotics technician” (KUAF).

These new robotics courses will provide especially great job opportunities for students who are interested in technology and want to pursue it right after their GED. Robotics specialists are greatly sought after by local manufacturing companies like Tyson, which can offer jobs that earn up to $40,000 a year (NWA Online). The steadily-increasing demand for technological skill-based workers makes a robotics certificate an attractive asset for anyone looking to move their career in this direction. Classes begin the week of June 24. Check out more information about the NWA Regional Robotics Training Center and how to apply below.

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These new robotics courses will provide especially great job opportunities for students who are interested in technology and want to pursue it right after their GED. Robotics specialists are greatly sought after by local manufacturing companies like Tyson, which can offer jobs that earn up to $40,000 a year (NWA Online). The steadily-increasing demand for technological skill-based workers makes a robotics certificate an attractive asset for anyone looking to move their career in this direction. Classes begin the week of June 24. Check out more information about the NWA Regional Robotics Training Center and how to apply below.

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NERDIES Summer Camps Introduces Kids to Robotics

“We are creating a pipeline for the future; a pipeline of creative talent that can lead to successful, in-demand careers in robotics, animation, design, filmmaking, and more.”

NERDIES

The best way to prepare for a career in tech is to start early. The NERDIES summer camps by PIXEL (a school for the media arts), in Fayetteville, Springdale, Bentonville, and Rogers offer a huge variety of classes to suit any child’s interests and start developing their passion for technology.

The NERDIES Summer sessions, “where creativity meets technology,” introduce children to “science, technology, and media and visual arts [and] equips [them] with lifelong skills that will serve them in the future: critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, creative thinking, communication, and project management” (NERDIES). There is something for everyone in NERDIES impressive array of classes: animation, digital photography, storytelling, Youtube, podcast design, and you guessed it—robot design! Take a look at their course offerings and summer session dates below.

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The High Demand for STEM Professionals Opens Opportunities in Northwest Arkansas

Northwest Arkansas is steadily growing in tech jobs in science, engineering, and mathematics. According to Mike Harvey, Chief Operating Officer for the Northwest Arkansas Council, STEM jobs have grown by more than 80% between 2001 and 2018. Each of the groups listed above, coupled with the local high schools and other higher education institutions like the Northwest Technical Institute, all have a role to play in the pipeline development needed to fill the jobs of the future. What these headlines make clear is that our region is determined to keep pace by supporting children, adolescents, and adults in learning about technology and acquiring a skillset for a future where the demand for STEM professionals will only keep increasing.

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