USC Upstate Robotics Program Announces Partnership with SEW Eurodrive

June 3, 2010 at 12:46 pm

Spartanburg, S.C. – The robotics program within the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of South Carolina Upstate announces a new partnership with SEW Eurodrive, a manufacturer of geared motors, frequency inverters and servo drives.

The university and the Germany-based company with a manufacturing facility in Lyman, S.C. entered into an agreement in which SEW Eurodrive will support USC Upstate’s  robotics program for five years by funding a research lab assistant every semester, lab materials, robotics summer camps and special events. In return, SEW Eurodive will receive student interns to support various research projects. The university will also provide feasibility studies at the company’s request.

“One of the goals of the robotics program at USC Upstate is to develop the next generation workforce with integrated knowledge of computer science and industrial robotics in order to meet the demands of manufacturing companies with high-tech robotic systems with advanced programming interfaces,” says Sebastian van Delden, associate professor of computer science. “The SEW Eurodrive Research Assistantship Program will be a fantastic partnership opportunity for our students to get that real-world hands-on experience within a manufacturing company, ultimately preparing them for an exciting career in computer science, robotics or an IT related field,” he adds.

“We are honored to take part in this important robotics partnership with USC Upstate. We believe there will be great benefits as we invest in growing tomorrow’s workforce for the community’s advanced technological challenges, both present and future,” says Edie Become, director of Human Resources at SEW Eurodrive.

In addition to Become, Bruce King, former vice president now retired, Chris Blickle, U.S. operations manager, and Chuck Chandler, assistant plant manager, met with van Delden, to set the scope of the partnership.

Student research assistants will work on research projects, either in the area of applying computer vision or natural language programming to industrial robotics (i.e. communicating with the robotic arm through camera or voice recognition stsyems.) In addition to academic research projects, SEW Eurodrive will be able to assign a research project to the research assistant such as conducting a feasibility study and developing a prototype robotic solution that is needed on the plant floor. Students’ day to day tasks will include programming algorithms in Java, C++, VB, V+ or VAL3, reading and writing research papers, and constructing physical parts of the applications.  

The summer camp program that will be receiving financial support is in its second year. Hosted on the USC Upstate campus, over 50 young students (ages 12-16) participated in a week-long camp last summer, inspiring them to learn about robotics and computer science. Approximately 100 students are expected to participate in robotics camps this summer.

The robotics program is one facet of the course of study leading to the Bachelor of Science degree in computer science. The curriculum is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) and provides the foundation necessary for continued study at the graduate level as well as knowledge and skills that may be used in careers in business and industry.

SEW Eurodrive is a world leader in drive technology and a pioneer in drive-based automation. The company introduced the gearmotor in 1931 and in more than 75 years since then, the company lists a history of innovations including the first variable speed gearmotor, early development of electronic drives, some of the first successful efforts to decentralize control and the first motor with energy-efficient copper rotors. The Lyman, S.C. facility opened in 1983 and the location has also been home to SEW’s U.S. corporate headquarters since 1987. The complex now includes the U.S. DriveAcademy® training center and a world-class manufacturing plant. The 250,000 square foot manufacturing facility, which makes SEW’s popular K-Series helical bevel gear reducers, was honored with the Plant Engineering Magazine 2007 Top Plant Award for innovation, employee empowerment and environmental responsibility. The plant has more than doubled its manufacturing capacity over the past seven years to meet growing customer demand.

For more information about the SEW Eurodrive Research Assistantship Program, the Computer Science degree, or the Robotics program, contact Sebastian van Delden at 864-503-5292 or Bea Walters Smith, director of Development and Foundation Scholarships, can be contacted for further information as well, at 864-503-5235 or

Photo: From left to right: Chris Blickle (U.S. operations manager), Bruce King (vice president, retired), Sebastian van Delden (associate professor of computer science), Edie Become (director of Human Resources), and Chuck Chandler (assistant plant manager).