Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. will join this year's Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology Week Sept. 24-29 at The University of Texas-Pan American and bring its best musician - a 4 foot, 9 inch tall, 88-pound, trumpet-playing robot to excite students about the possibilities in the fields of science and technology.
Participating in their first HESTEC, Toyota will provide demonstrations of their very humanlike Partner Robot during Robotics Day, Thursday, Sept. 27 held for registered Rio Grande Valley GEAR UP students and during Community Day, Saturday, Sept. 29, open free to the entire community.
HESTEC is an annual, weeklong event developed six years ago by U.S. Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15) and UTPA to promote science literacy and interest students in pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.
In a visit to UTPA July 30, four Toyota representatives were able to tour the campus and its facilities to prepare the logistics for the robot's HESTEC appearances and career day plans. Victor Vanov, external affairs specialist for Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc., said the HESTEC event was a perfect fit for Toyota to promote its current products and technology.
"Bringing it here offers a unique opportunity, drawing possibly 50,000 from the community - students, parents, grandparents. The scale here is just large enough for us," Vanov said.
The development of today's very humanoid robot, explained Vanov, stemmed from Toyota's early development work in the 1970's and 1980's of industrial robots for use in the automotive industry, where they are utilized in welding and painting processes. By early this decade, Toyota moved to developing the advanced robots combining industrial robot technologies with the latest control technologies used in automobiles. Commercialization of their use to provide personal and medical assistance, such as elderly care, to humans one day is underway. Additional uses in the automotive industry, such as lifting heavy objects, and other practical applications are also viable as the technology advances.
Debuting in the United States in 2006, Toyota's Partner Robot walks, gestures with the dexterity of human fingers and has artificial lips which replicate the vibration of humans, allowing it to play quite a repertoire of familiar melodies, such as "Moon River" and "When You Wish Upon a Star." Vanov indicated their robot is "on the road" quite a bit.
Toyota representative Steve Harper, assistant manager of human resources for Toyota Manufacturing, Texas, Inc. said that the newest facility in San Antonio, where Toyota manufactures Tundra full-size pickups, offers many career opportunities for university graduates not only in engineering but in business and other technology areas. He said they have hired three UTPA engineering graduates in their quality and manufacturing areas and have had at least five in cooperative internships.
"We just started our relationship with the school (UTPA) last fall and want to build on that relationship," he said.
Also visiting the campus were Toyota employees Akihiro Goto and James Neilan, both with with Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc.
Yvette Padilla, UTPA director of Stewardship and Annual Giving, said she was excited to see that major corporations are now looking at UTPA students to strengthen their workforce.
"Companies are responding in an overwhelming manner to the needs of our University by providing scholarships, internships and coop opportunities to our students," she said.
Toyota is a Japanese multinational corporation and the world's largest automaker by revenue, production, sales and profit. In 1957, it established operations in North America, where it now manufactures the Avalon, Camry, Corolla, Matrix, Sienna, Solara, Sequoia, Tacoma, Tundra and the Lexus RX 330. By 2008, Toyota will have the annual capacity to build about two million cars and trucks in 15 plants across North America. Toyota directly employs nearly 40,000 people in North America and its investment there is valued at more than $17.6 billion.
Details on the location and times of the Partner Robot's appearances at Community Day are still pending. For more information on 2007 HESTEC, log on to www.hestec.org.