Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy

Use educational affordances of robotics to create CS-STEM opportunities for all learners

Smart Manufacturing and Advanced Robotics Training (SMART)



During the course of this research, several different types of technicians (testing, micro-electrical, electrical, manufacturing, operations) were interviewed and observed in the industry. This was to help identify the Knowledge, Skills, and Attributes (KSA) that small and medium-sized advanced manufacturing companies would require of their technicians. Previous Data was also used from a previous Workforce Development research project (we worked with over 30 different robotics and automation companies), survey data from ARM members, and the data gathered from interviewing and observing the technicians, to create organizers that we call Micro-Certifications. The Micro-Certifications that were developed are:

  1. Robotics Integration – Understanding systems, and subsystems and how the different components communicate with each other.

  2. Electrical Foundations – Electronics concepts: wiring, series & parallel circuits, switches, crimping, and troubleshooting with a multimeter.

  3. Mechanical Foundations – Understanding structure, stability, strength, gear trains, drivetrains, and many foundational mechanical concepts.

  4. Software Foundations – Programming aspect of robotics. Being able to program movement, sensing, and program flow.

  5. Fabrication Foundations – Identifying tools, materials, joining materials together, drilling, and additive processes like 3D printing.

Knowledge, Skills, and Assessments Documents: 

Robotics Technician KSA List

Training, Site Visits, and Community College Connections

The training of the SMART micro-certifications ran several pilots in 2019 in the Pittsburgh region with the help of the PA Department of Labor (DoL) and funding through Partner4Work. The training was carried out with local leaders of community organizations.

Site visits to local robotics and advanced manufacturing companies helped expose underserved community youth to this career path. Many of these same companies worked with us to create or validate the KSA lists.

See the SMART-ER program for more information.

Additional Funding

The Grable Foundation has graciously awarded CMRA with additional funding to expand the training and certification offerings to more regional community organizations. The funding extends and expands the SMART-ER project training.


Industry Driven Assessments

The project works with industry partners to gather data, develop assessments, and review and update training materials, classroom curricula, and competition activities. 

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Robotics Competition Credentials

This project has partnerships with robotics competition partners like FIRST Robotics and the Robotics Education Competition Foundation (RECF).

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Robotics Technician Micro-Certifications

Participants in the project have the opportunity to earn micro-certifications that lead to industry-driven certifications.

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Pre-Apprenticeship Credentials

SMART is a certified Pennsylvania pre-apprenticeship program, and is aligned to apprenticeship programs.

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SMART Partners

Project Leads

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Industry Partners

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Government, Public & Private

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