I'm always trying to get my daughters, ages 8 & 5, interested in what we do here at DMC. It's a challenge because I have a hard enough time explaining what DMC does to someone I meet at a cocktail party, never mind a couple of young kids. However, I recently had two great experiences with them that actually piqued their interest. The first was a trip to Legoland in Carlsbad, California. In addition to Miniland USA, Land of Adventure and other fun rides, there also is a Lego Factory Tour, featuring real automated machinery demonstrating molding, decorating, assembling, and packing of LEGO® products. The discussion went something along the lines of:
Me: "Do you see how this works? There's a computer that controls all of that equipment and instructions that tell the computer what to do. DMC writes those instructions for machines like this."
Kelsey (at the time 4): "So you make Legos?"
Me: "We write software that controls machines like this."
Kelsey: "Can we go to the gift shop?"
A few weeks after returning from Legoland we went to The Museum of Science and Industry, the first museum I visited in Chicago when I moved here over 20 years ago. This is still my favorite museum and I take my daughters there frequently.
A fantastic exhibit that does an amazing job of showcasing many of the automation technologies we implement is the Toymaker 3000: An Adventure in Automation. It's a multi-station assembly line that produces customized gravitron tops. It's highly engaging as you can watch your own top being created, tested, packaged and personally delivered. I think exhibits like these are an excellent way to spark interest in science and engineering at a young age.
Now if I can only translate the cool factor from these exhbits to inspire my kids to do their math homework...
Above: Entrance to the Toymaker 3000 Exhibit
The Toymaker 3000 Control Panel, using an Allen Bradley PLC
Above: The Human Machine Interface for the Toymaker 3000.
Note the system was created by Ixmation from Roselle, IL.
Above: A Fanuc Robot about to deliver the completed toys.
Above: Two happy customers with their customized Gravitron 3000 toys.
Above: Entry to the Legoland Factory Tour
Above: Bowl Feeder Assembly Cell @ Legoland Factory