CBW Automation Advances STEM Education by Mentoring Local High School Robotics Team

Automation Company Inspires and Motivates Students at Fossil Ridge High School to Pursue Science/Technology Careers 

FORT COLLINS, Colo., June 25, 2019 – CBW Automation, a leading U.S. supplier of robots and automation solutions for the plastics industry, has partnered with a local Fort Collins high school robotics team and provided financial support and mentoring to guide and motivate students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) career fields.

Students from Fossil Ridge High School have worked closely with technical volunteers from CBW Automation for the last two years, competing in the nationally-recognized FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics competition. FIRST was founded in 1989 to inspire and educate young people in STEM fields while building life skills through a mentor-based teaching system. The local team, named FIRST team 4388 Ridgebotics, was recently successful in two competitions, including an eighth-place in a regional competition in Utah.

“This is our way of giving back to the community,” said Shiloh Wood, a CBW Automation project engineer and lead volunteer. “This program enables students to spend their time profitably and encourages and motivates them to pursue technical instruction and possible careers in a STEM-related field.”

The totally student-led endeavor consists not only of designing, building, and programming a robot to complete a mission, but also learning and understanding business tasks such as fundraising, marketing, and budgeting. In the fall season, student leaders train incoming students and the team prepares for the upcoming competition by building a smaller practice robot to test new components and designs. In January, students are assigned the design parameters for the project and have six weeks to design and build a robot. Wood spends nearly every weekday night assisting the team, providing guidance, tips, and advice on design principles and manufacturing techniques.

“These kids invest an enormous amount of time in this project, most times working until 9 p.m. each night,” said Wood. “They make a serious commitment to working together as a team to construct a robot that will fulfill the project demands.”

Students learn to use a computer-aided design (CAD) program called Solidworks to create a 3D model of the robot and technical drawings of all the necessary parts. These drawings are then transferred to CBW Automation’s fabrication department which machines the components, mostly aluminum extrusions, aluminum sheet, and some plastic parts. CBW donates in excess of $10,000 in labor and materials. Students are responsible for programming and assembling the entire robot. This year’s robot weighed 115 lb and measured 28-in wide by 32-in long by 48-in tall.

This year’s competition involved two different types of game pieces: kick balls which could vary in slightly in size, and polycarbonate discs. Each match of the competition was played by two alliances of three teams where the goal was to place the most game pieces in various repositories around the field. The repositories varied in height, some only a foot above the ground, while others where as tall as eight feet. At the end of the match, the robots could climb a platform to score additional points. These complex competitions provided the teams great opportunities to push their design limits and team strategies.

The robotics program has come full circle for CBW Automation with one former Ridgebotics participant now working as an intern at the company. Hunter Pearson of Fort Collins, now a freshman at Colorado State University majoring in mechanical engineering, was a Ridgebotics team member for four years. He said the robotics program was the best experience of his high school career, playing a key role in his decision to become an engineer. The robotics program enabled him to overcome his initial shyness and develop team-building skills and a range of technical knowledge.

“What we accomplished in the Ridgebotics program definitely gave me an edge when I went on to college,” said Pearson. “It was an invaluable experience that gave me a solid foundation.”

About CBW Automation                                                                                                                                                       

CBW Automation, based in Fort Collins, Colo., is a leading U.S. supplier of robots and automation solutions with a focus on injection molding and thermoforming applications in the packaging and medical sectors. The company, founded in 1970, developed the first automatic system for stacking Cool Whip lids from the injection molding process. CBW has also pioneered the design and construction of high-speed, side-entry and top-entry robotic systems to reach the fastest possible cycle times in the high-volume production market of thin-wall molded parts. For more information, visit www.cbwautomation.com.


Swiss-based MOLD & ROBOTICS group is the first globally acting industry and technology leader in tool making and automation technology for thin-wall plastic packaging. With an established presence in the U.S. and Europe, the Swiss company H. MÜLLER-Fabrique de Moules SA, Conthey, and the two companies CBW Automation, based in Fort Collins, Colo. and DOLLINS Tool, Independence, Mo., operate under the umbrella of the MOLD & ROBOTICS group.

The expanding global market for thinwall packaging, relating to food and non-food containers, increases the demand for superior product design, tool making, and automation. The intercontinental positioning of MOLD & ROBOTICS group contributes to supporting companies from the food, non-food, and medical technology sectors in the development of new packaging for their products. For more information, visit www.moldandrobotics.com.


Joseph Grande

J. Grande communications Inc.



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