Mechatronics Students Diagnose & Repair Cochran’s FD Robot, Pluggie

When the Cochran Fire Department’s fire safety training robot ‘Pluggie’ started experiencing technical issues, Lieutenant Brock Wilcher contacted the Mechatronics Program at Oconee Fall Line Technical College (OFTC) for assistance.

Pluggie is often used when teaching elementary aged students about the importance of fire safety and can talk and interact with students and answer questions via a remote operator.

“Our students did both the troubleshooting and testing on the robot,” shared OFTC Mechatronics instructor, Lee Radney. “Pluggie’s biggest issue was a weak battery in his control center.”

Using this project as an opportunity to provide hands-on experience and training for his students, Radney let them take full control. “Joseph Cason diagnosed the original issue and assisted in Pluggie’s battery upgrade, while many students took part in the testing of Pluggie once the replacement had been made. After all, who doesn’t want to drive a remote-control fire hydrant?” he asked.

This mechanical diagnosis and repair was the perfect application of skills for these mechatronics students since the remote-control fire hydrant is truly a mechatronic device – a blend of mechanical and electronic controls.

“The ability to diagnose and repair Pluggie is utilizing the same skills that students will utilize when any electro-mechanical device is in need of repair,” Radney said.

And while Radney and his students were glad to offer their services for the benefit of a great training opportunity, they were pleased to be able and serve those who serve others for a living. “We are always particularly thrilled to help our local community service organizations – these public servants give of their time to protect us,” he said. “It is always a pleasure when we can utilize our skills to assist them.”

For more info on OFTC’s Mechatronics program, visit the Mechatronics program page on the College’s website, OFTC.edu.

OFTC Mechatronics instructor, Lee Radney (L), and Lieutenant Brock (R) Wilcher from the Cochran Fire Department with 'Pluggie' (center) the robot. OFTC's Mechatronics Students diagnosed and repaired the robot.

OFTC Mechatronics instructor, Lee Radney (L), and Lieutenant Brock Wilcher (R) from the Cochran Fire Department with ‘Pluggie’ (center) the robot.