The blue glowing Sphero coding robot inched forward, then zoomed across the room in the new Innovation Studio at Endress+Hauser.
At other stations, robotic arms drew pictures, tossed dice and dropped blocks down a twisty slide. A 3-D printer carved out a light bulb token in front of amazed kids and their parents.
A small group had come to the Greenwood facility for a sneak peak of the new Innovation Studio Thursday night. But inside the new STEM center, local students will be able test out cutting-edge technology without leaving Johnson County.
“It’s about inspiring the kids, bringing them in and getting them excited about technology and engineering,” said Jerry Spindler, customer training manager at Endress+Hauser. “Down the road, we’re going to need those types of workers to come here and work, not only here (at Endress+Hauser) but at other companies in central Indiana.”
The Innovation Studio is a unique new feature offered by Endress+Hauser to help strengthen science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills within the county. The studio will be open to teachers and students in Johnson and Marion counties, to expose students to the STEM concepts, manufacturing and process automation that Endress+Hauser employees use every day.
A curriculum developed in conjunction with the studio allows teachers to tie in state standards for kindergarten through eighth grade in science, math, English and social studies. Applications are also available for high school students.
“It’s a way to really connect and build relationships with the schools. We have that resource here that they don’t have at their schools. They can bring their kids here,” Spindler said. “We want to open our doors and let them use it as much as they’d like.”
The Innovation Studio was made possible with a grant through Purdue University’s IN-MaC, or the Indiana Next Generation Manufacturing Competitiveness Center. The center is designed to create a stronger, more competitive manufacturing ecosystem for Indiana and the nation, according to its website.
Endress+Hauser worked with the center in 2020, when a grant helped them put on a virtual version of its Community Career and Education Forum.
“At that time, we heard that they had some Innovation Studios around the state. And I kept asking, ‘How can we get one down here in Johnson County?’” said Nicole Otte, director of workforce development and human resources at Endress+Hauser.
With the $23,000 grant, Endress+Hauser was able to equip a space with a wide variety of technology showcasing different STEM concepts. The company paid to renovate and furnish the space and assigned Spindler to oversee the studio. Engineers from Endress+Hauser will help teachers and students when they come to the space, Otte said.
Students can use computer programs to make robotic arms complete a variety of tasks. Using a cellphone application, kids could make the roly-poly Sphero robots roll in all different directions. They can also learn about circuits and electronics using littleBits kits.
Equipment can help classes do 3-D modeling, 3-D printing, coding and study manufacturing principles.
All of it serves to build a future workforce that is skilled in manufacturing; local employers are in constant need of those kinds of workers, Otte said.
“It is exactly what we should be doing as an industry — connecting to education. This is how we’re meant to connect, and giving students pathways to careers is only going to happen when industry and education partner together,” she said.
The studio also helps inform students, educators and parents about the kinds of industries Endress+Hauser serve.
“When people come in here, they’ll get a much better idea of what Endress+Hauser does and how it serves the markets that we supply our instrumentation to, and how we help solve some of the world’s biggest challenges,” Spindler said. “That’s what these young students can look forward to — that they can contribute and do something worthwhile, right here in Greenwood.”
Educators were able to see the Innovation Studio in action during an open house on Sept. 15, learning how the studio and curriculum could fit into their lesson plan. Teachers can arrange a visit to the studio with Spindler moving forward.
The opening of the studio has lit a spark of excitement around Endress+Hauser, and they hope to grow the studio in coming years.
“It’s really just a starting point, a launch pad, because we want to invest even more of our dollars into lab equipment and curriculum that will really apply to the type of industries that we serve,” Spindler said.
AT A GLANCE
Design and Innovation Studio
What: A specially designed space available to local teachers and students to study STEM, manufacturing, trades and other science-based concepts.
Where: Endress+Hauser, Greenwood
Who can take part: The studio and accompanying curriculum is aimed at students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Applications are available for high school students as well.
How to get involved: Educators interested in reserving the space for their students can follow this link to fill out our reservation form: us.endress.com/en/press-center/news-and-press-releases/design-and-innovation-studio