Alumni Magazine Fall 2016 - page 12-13

Clarkson
Magazine
Fall 2016
n
n
Clarkson
Magazine
Fall 2016
GREAT IDEAS
enthusiasm wasn’t being backed
up by technology education in
the classroom. She worked with
Associate Professor of Electrical
& Computer Engineering James
Carroll to help start STEM
programs at area high schools
and middle schools.
The demand was too high to
support all the programs, so she
decided to start a company.
What goes on at The Robot Zone?
All things technology related.
A 3D printer is always
running. There’s a green screen
wall for video editing and
recording, a storage room with
Legos to build and play, and space
to build robots. Imagination and
design have free rein as people can
pick which colors and materials
they want to use. There’s also
space where older kids can be
safety certified and make large
robots that require machining.
Customers range in age from
5 to 18. So far the boys outnumber
the girls, but Clapper works with
local Girl Scout troops and is finding
that once the girls are inspired, they
return for more activities.
Alumna Amanda Clapper
discovered her passion for
robotics when she was in high
school and is so devoted to STEM
education that she interrupted her
studies at Clarkson to establish
her own business, The Robot
Zone, to promote STEM activities.
This spring, after operating
two years in Clarkson’s Peyton
Hall Business Incubator, the
24-year-old decided to make
technology even more a part of
daily life by moving her business
to downtown Potsdam.
Clarkson’s Shipley Center
for Innovation, and the Center’s
executive director, Matt Draper, were
with her every step of the way.
“My COO Benjamin
Baumgardner ’15 and I worked
with the Shipley Center from the
beginning,” says Clapper. “They
helped us file necessary paperwork,
gave us office space, and answered
every question.”
The idea for the business
came about when Clapper and
some of her fellow students were
mentors for a robotics team. The
kids were excited and having
a blast, she noted, but that
While The Robot Zone serves
a demand for tech education and
activity, it also is helping shape the
minds of tomorrow’s workforce.
STEM activities hone necessary skills
for the growing technology market
and she’s offering the opportunity
to acquire them in a region where
a college education is not always a
possibility. “I hope the skills they gain
will help them in the job market,”
she says.
Clapper’s advice to aspiring
entrepreneurs is “Don’t be afraid
to try. Ask and reach out to see
who can help you. Really know
what it is you want out of it. Focus
on your end goal. Your business
should be more about your passion
than what money you will make
out of it.”
T h e
R o b o t
Z o n e
Alumna Amanda Clapper and business partner Benjamin Baumgardner ’15
By Connie Jenkins
13
THE RISE OF ROBOTS
The Robotics Industry Association
estimates that some 260,000 robots
are currently in use in North American
factories, which is third to Japan and
China in robot use.
While the automotive industry is
still the largest in terms of volume for
robotics, growth in non-automotive
industries (e.g. Semiconductor &
Electronics, Food & Consumer Goods
and Plastics & Rubber) has increased
substantially.
Meanwhile, according to the
latest projection by the International
Federation of Robotics, by 2018 an
estimated 1.3 million industrial robots
will be entering service in factories
around the world.
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