Robotics interns achieve greater success in life when failure is part of the process.

October 30, 2019

Robotics is the perfect blend of mechanical and electrical engineering that’s connected through math and programming.  It is both very hands-on and yet highly theoretical and technical.  So, by teaching robotics, we can cover what I see as a true all-encompassing engineering experience.  We cover industry skills like CAD and programming and academic subjects like algebra, geometry trigonometry, physic, calculus.  We teach tangible skills like assembly, design, testing, and debugging.

And most of all, we teach soft skills.  The kind students can apply to every aspect of their learning and growing experience, such as teamwork, experimentation, communications, organization, and planning.

Teaching students patience and persistence

We find that different students gravitate to different realms of robotics.  Some are highly mathematical, while others want to get their hands dirty.  Some like to focus on the larger picture while others enjoy narrowing their work to a very specific design problem.  Regardless of their interest, we want to make sure that robotics teaches them that the concepts and tasks that they thought were too hard or too complicated, are easily within their reach — if they take it one step at a time and never give up.

And this is what I believe drives students to our robotics program.  We provide them with an opportunity to succeed in an environment where failure is part of the process, and success comes from incremental growth year after year. Seniors in high school who started in our robotics program as freshman look back and are amazed at how far they have come, and how much they have done.

Personally, our robotics program has been an opportunity for me to learn, explore, and give back to the community.   It allows me to find and develop the hidden talent in our community and bring them into my engineering team.  Our internship program at Conceptual Innovations specifically pulls students from our robotics program. I believe there is no better interview process than working hand in hand with these students to understand their strengths and weaknesses and help shape how they can fit into the larger picture at Conceptual.

Interns are a crucial part of the R&D process

Bringing interns into Conceptual has also helped me keep the engineering department nimble and creative.  Because of the training robotics interns receive on the team, they are immediately productive and useful. They bring with them a can-do mentality that is crucial for product development.  Our robotics program has helped Conceptual develop key technologies and robotics products for Boeing, NASA, and BAE, to name a few.

Moving much of Conceptual Innovation’s engineering capabilities into INNOVATE Albion, our new Robotics Center in downtown Albion, is simply the next and necessary step in our evolution as both a teaching organization and as a product manufacturing company.  INNOVATE Albion provides us with the room to grow.  It also allows Conceptual to extend our robotics program to neighboring communities. In turn, this will enable us to find and train new talent, which I believe is essential in growing our business.

The goal for INNOVATE Albion is to develop partnerships with our surrounding K-12 schools.  Our hope is that INNOVATE Albion becomes an extension of the classroom learning environment.  Lessons taught at schools are reinforced and made tangible when students can apply what they learn on actual hardware.  INNOVATE Albion is developing a curriculum that teaches STEM through hands-on application and competitive exercises.  INNOVATE Albion also serves as a hub where teachers and mentors interested in teaching STEM can gather, exchange ideas, and support each other’s work.

This is our 5th year supporting robotics in our community.  We are proud of the work we have accomplished, thankful for the students and teachers we have developed a relationship with and always welcoming others passionate about teaching science and math to join us on our journey.

Dr. Elmer Lee, Ph.D.
Head of Exploration


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