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L3Harris Delivers Advanced Manufacturing Equipment to Rochester Institute of Technology

Communication Systems
May 31, 2023 | 3-MINUTE Read

L3Harris Technologies is committed to the future growth of its local communities through investments in school STEM programs and competitive robotics teams.

“As technology develops at lightning speed, we recognize the need to develop highly-skilled individuals in a multitude of specialties to ensure industry can meet the demands of our customers worldwide,” said Renee Swan, L3Harris vice president of Human Resources. “That’s why we’re proud to partner with colleges and universities in our local communities, like Rochester Institute of Technology, to lean forward with programs that inspire and educate students in the latest innovations in engineering and manufacturing.”

L3Harris has a strong partnership with the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in particular, hiring many engineering and technology students as summer interns or new college graduates, according to Balaji Suresh, L3Harris vice president of Operations. In fact, RIT is the most-common alma mater among the company’s Communication Systems employee population, with more than 500 alumni.

COGNEX artificial intelligence camera for manufacturing

“We are fortunate to have a world-class institution in our backyard and are thrilled to support the integration of emerging technologies and operational excellence concepts in RIT’s curriculum to help prepare the next generation of manufacturing and industrial engineers,” said Suresh.

Recently, L3Harris helped source augmented reality, programmable torque driver and artificial intelligence inspection equipment, among others, for RIT’s Toyota Production Systems Laboratory.

L3Harris Operations representatives reached out to the lab to gain perspective on what it teaches students about Lean Six Sigma tools and advanced manufacturing technology, according to Ryan Esse, L3Harris director of Manufacturing Engineering.

After a discussion with Tony DiVasta, the Lab’s director and former L3Harris employee, the two teams realized there was an opportunity to collaborate and provide new Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) technology to the school, said Esse.

The donated equipment will begin exposing RIT students to Advanced Manufacturing tools and techniques earlier in their careers, said Esse. This also benefits L3Harris and industry at large by generating interest in related technologies, internships and careers with the company.

COGNEX artificial intelligence camera for manufacturing

“We greatly appreciate L3Harris’ donation,” said Doreen Edwards, dean of RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering. “The Cognex cameras enable the integration of machine learning techniques into our manufacturing lab and provide students with an opportunity to use state-of-the-art manufacturing tools.”

The donations to the school are “admirable,” according to Peter DeNagel, Cognex district sales manager.

“Providing hands-on machine vision and deep learning experience before entering the workforce is invaluable,” said DeNagel. “Cognex is proud to be a part of it.”

Internship projects spanning the summers of 2021 and 2022 spurred the idea for closer collaboration with RIT and the donations themselves, according to Fran Branco, L3Harris Manufacturing Engineering principal. The interns created proofs of concept to replace traditional visual mechanical inspections conducted by Quality Assurance and move it into the assembly process. The goal was to eliminate all visual mechanical quality escapes in the associated factory, added Branco.

L3Harris representatives submitted a technology grant proposal for the donations and spent several hours in February with DiVasta and other school officials setting up the first installation, an artificial intelligence camera. The lab technicians were able to learn the software and begin programming the equipment within minutes, said Branco. 

The company and the university coordinated efforts including an L3Harris-provided training and a showcase event demonstrating the integration of a collaborative robot into the inspection camera system.

“Our goal is to continue our support of the RIT Toyota Production Systems Lab by integrating this new inspection system with Lean Six Sigma methodologies and other Industry 4.0 technologies to provide the students more hands-on experiences with emerging real-world technology and to inspire them to continue their careers with L3Harris,” said Branco.