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Engineering Celebrates New Robotics Lab

Robot in New Robotics Lab
New robotics equipment and technology will help students hone their robotics engineering knowledge and skills.

Engineering students, faculty and alumni were in attendance to celebrate the opening of the new robotics lab in Kirkbride Hall on March 14.

Named after its supporter, the “Alan J. Criswell Robotics Engineering Laboratory” features state-of-the-art equipment and technology that will advance student learning, promote research and enhance career readiness.

The facility was created with generous support from Alan J. Criswell, a Widener alumnus and founding president & CEO of ACI Technologies Inc. located in Philadelphia. From a program logistics control training system and industrial automation robot, to a 3-D printer and smart machine vision camera, the lab facility will introduce students to the advanced technology used by professionals in the field.

At an event to showcase the new technology to the Widener community, Sachin Patil, interim dean of engineering, and Fred Akl, Widener provost, both expressed appreciation and excitement for the addition of the advanced learning tools available.

“Through Mr. Criswell’s generous support, our students will be able to learn by doing,” said Patil. “The cutting-edge technology will introduce students to the systems that they will experience as professionals in the field.”

Criswell received a bachelor of science in engineering in 1982. He credits his Widener education for laying the foundation for which he built a successful engineering career.

Criswell's generous support creates a lasting impact on the robotics program.
Alan J. Criswell's generous support creates a lasting impact on the robotics program.

“I attribute much of my success as the founding president & CEO of ACI Technologies to the preparation and technical knowledge that I received at Widener as an engineering student in the 1980s,” Criswell said.

“It gives me great pleasure to support the school’s innovative leap into robotics with this state-of-the-art lab to prepare the students of Widener for the demanding engineering and technology challenges of tomorrow,” Criswell added.

Following his time at Widener, Criswell went on to serve in a variety of technical and management positions for the U.S. Navy, specializing in electronics manufacturing technology. His work earned him the prestigious Reliability, Maintainability, and Quality Assurance award from the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1989. As leader of ACI Technologies for more than 25 years, Criswell built a leading research and engineering services company that employs the nation’s leading engineers and scientists.

The lab opened less than one year after Widener launched the region’s first robotics engineering undergraduate major. Led by expert faculty, the program matches rigorous academics with experiential co-op and internship opportunities to put students on the inside track to success in the growing field of robotics engineering.

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