Robotics specialists Mitsubishi Electric has lent the college a pick and place precision instrument, complete with £1,000 worth of software, giving Level 1-HND students a head start in a growing industry.
Level 2 apprentice with Allerton Steel James Bew created a safety cage for the Mitsubishi Electric robot and senior electrical and electronics lecturer Steve Corner and tutors Dave Pengilley and Dennis McCabe helped complete the hi-tech laboratory.
A study area allows student to develop their ideas for projects and keep up to date with the latest engineering innovations.
The lab also features a pneumatics rig, experimental design area, a mechatronic assembly cell and a range of simulators.
Steve said: “I hope the laboratory will inspire students to become the next generation of leading engineers.
“Product engineering is about the continuous development of technology to make it better, more efficient, faster and cheaper to manufacture and that is what we are trying to teach.
“Our students come to us with a high level of dexterity because of the popularity of games devices such as PS4s and X-Boxes. They are also interested in how robots work and with our help can hit the ground running.
“They love the lab and we are very proud of what we have achieved thanks to our team’s vast engineering experience and the support of Mitsubishi Electric.”
Level 1 engineering student Liam Burnside, 16, of Darlington, a former Haughton Academy pupil, said: “The lab is really great and we all love it. I’m also hoping to complete some work experience with Cummins Engines and would love to work there one day.”
Mitsubishi Electric sales engineer Ian Patterson said: “Automation and robotics are huge growth areas and we are delighted to be helping Darlington College develop much-needed engineers.
“We are facing a massive skills gap as engineers retire and demand for skilled labour grows. This means that engineering is providing some incredible opportunities around the globe which are exciting and well paid.”