UF Engineering Researchers Will Create 2 Courses on Robotics Safety 

Boyi Hu, Ph.D., an assistant professor for the UF Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering (ISE), has received funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for the development of course modules that focus on collaborative robotics, automation safety and essential robotics standards. 

NIST recently awarded five institutions with funding for educational support for both undergraduate and graduate curricula. The awards cover many STEM disciplines such as infrastructure improvement and resilience, building information modeling, nanomaterials engineering, aerospace, robotics and sustainability.  

Dr. Hu will serve as the project’s principal investigator with Wayne Giang, Ph.D., an ISE assistant professor, as a co-principal investigator. The researchers were awarded ~$99,000 to develop two publicly accessible and customizable modules of collaborative robotics safety code and standardization. The modules will be delivered as part of an upper-level undergraduate/master split-level course, “Occupational Safety Engineering,” during a four-week period with student interests driving content coverage. The modules will also be presented as part of another upper-level undergraduate course, “Human Factors Applications,” during a two-week period. During the courses, student teams will cover industry robotics standards in a highly interactive manner with the objective of greater student learning outcomes in industrial safety.  

The development of these modules comes from an increased interest in applications of collaborative robotics in industry. However, there is a need for a better understanding among workers and system designers of aspects of human-robot interaction. Developers, integrators, and end-users all need sufficient awareness of related standards and codes.  

“We believe the new course modules are of great importance for ensuring U.S. technology leadership worldwide,” Dr. Hu said. “Not only are robotics safety standards important to innovation, safety and a fair marketplace, but a standards-savvy workforce being trained in universities, such as UF, is also critical to U.S. leadership in global technology.” 

Both courses will be offered in-person and online for industrial and systems engineering undergraduate and graduate students, with the opportunity for graduate students to earn a certificate in safety engineering.