Festo, a specialist in industrial automation and technical education, has partnered with the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre to launch the Mechatronics Lab on Tuesday. Festo donated R2-million worth of training equipment towards the facility. The Sci-Bono lab is a Mechatronics Engineering Training System/Lab for secondary schools. It will address manufacturing, employability and STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The hope is that this facility will improve the human resources needed to drive the industrial manufacturing core of the South African economy by closing the skills gap, improving employability and increasing productivity.

“Festo is both industry and education. We focus on building skills as much as we focus on building industrial productivity. We take industrial technology and put it into the classroom. We see the partnership with Sci-Bono as particularly valuable to address the secondary school market to increase the number of learners with maths, science and technology so we get more engineers and artisans who are the technology core of the country and therefore the future of the country, “ says Horst Weinert, Festo manager: Didactic Southern/Eastern Africa.

This state of the art facility, which launches during National Science Week, is suitable for Grade 10 -12 learners and will provide training and guidance to support technical curriculum development.

The lab is equipped with learning systems that makes industry-relevant technology easy to use in the classroom, e.g. bionics, pneumatics, electrics, 3D printing, robotics and mechatronics kits that are hands-on, fun and simple to build and prototype, ensuring learning-by-doing, culminating in the assembly and fault-finding of a small manufacturing factory with similar processes and components to what would be found at industrial production lines. This adds fascination to the theory of maths, science and technology subjects, informs career choices and promotes employability by bridging the gap between industry and education.