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Gunnar Klitzing, a senior with a double major in engineering technology and financial accounting, was selected as the winner of the Association of Technology, Management and Applied Engineering (ATMAE) Undergraduate Student Poster Award for 2019. His research project was titled “Using Virtual Reality for Industrial Robot Path Programming.” Associate Professor Kevin Devine and Assistant Professor Isaac Chang were his faculty advisors on this research project.

Klitzing wanted to study this topic because he has always been interested in robotics. After taking Devine’s TEC 234 Robotics Systems Integration course, he wanted to delve deeper into the study of the methodologies of programming robots. He decided to study the usage of virtual reality in robot programming as it is the most recent technology to be implemented in the field. After the first experiment, it was found that virtual reality could be an important tool to help students learn and understand robot programming.

“Gunnar is very practical and has good problem-solving skills. He used these traits to his advantage when investigating how virtual reality technology can be used to program industrial robots,” Devine said.

This research has strengthened his ultimate goals. Being able to determine what is needed for students to be successful in the classroom and implementing it is closely related to what Klitzing wants to do in his career. The research has received positive feedback from the students and yielded useful data.

“My ultimate goal is to create simplicity, consistency, and robustness in every project I take part in. Simplicity to make the task easy to complete and understand. Consistency to achieve repeatability within the task. Finally, robustness to ensure that the task can be completed across a variety of situations,” Klitzing said.

Following the first experiment with participants, it was agreed that virtual reality could be an important tool in the learning process of students learning about and understanding robot programming.

At the ATMAE Conference, Klitzing was exposed to many different levels of research on-going at other universities. All of the research studies are working to simplify the processes or improve the efficiencies of his industry. The robot competition showed many different aspects of robot builds, some with more advantages than others. Klitzing was able to network with a few other student researchers, learning about their projects and what their goals are. All in all, Klitzing believes the conference was very beneficial for increasing his understanding of necessary improvements in the industry. Klitzing plans to apply this gained understanding to his future research to address the wants and needs of the industry.

“Gunnar is very proactive and goes beyond what is asked for. He brainstormed effectively with faculty members while working on this research project. He is well-versed in reflecting on what he has learned and has the ability to develop step-by-step solutions to complex problems,” Chang said.

Klitzing worked for a Caterpillar supplier. In this position, he has developed standardized work instructions for the company’s employees. After graduating from Illinois State, Klitzing plans to utilize his engineering technology and financial accounting degrees to obtain a managerial role within a manufacturing company. With these two degrees, he will be able to understand the process of manufacturing the products and understand what changes or improvements need to be made in order to further the company’s success.