When Dio Brown stepped inside the massive Amazon Fulfillment Center, it felt like a dream come true. The Advanced Robotics Sortable facility in Liverpool is one of Amazon's newest and largest in the United States. "When we first walked in, the first thing we saw was robotics. It was amazing how synchronized all of the movement was. It was a cool introduction. We saw several floors... the robotic arms, the trolleys zipping around. It was something I always wanted to see. I felt like Charlie in the Willie Wonka Factory," Brown said, referring to the movie in which a character won a trip inside a chocolate factory, then was gifted the actual factory.
Brown was one of 9 students in Onondaga Community College's School of Technology, Engineering & Computing who had the privilege of touring the facility, which is a key part of Amazon's fulfillment network in the northeast and beyond. Some of the amazing facts related to it include:
- The building contains more than 20 million products at any given time.
- More than 350,000 products travel through it on any given day.
- There are hundreds of robots working inside.
- The building is more than 3.8 million square feet.
The field trip was related to Amazon's "Delivering the Future" event in Seattle on the same day which featured an array of announcements and demonstrations for the company's latest and greatest innovations across many of its business lines.
For OCC students, a key focus of the tour was the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, and how Amazon is innovating and leading in these categories when it comes to customer fulfillment. The visit also included a question-and-answer session with Amazon's senior leadership at the Liverpool facility.
Brown is a 33-year-old student working toward a Computer Information Systems degree. In the spring, Brown will also enroll in Electromechanical Technology, the new Micron-related degree program. "When I came to OCC I said 'I want to do something in AI and robotics' and I didn't expect there to be anything. But this is literally the center of what's coming! I love quantum mechanics, I love quantum computing, I love AI, and I love robotics. It's amazing how it all worked out."
Brown recently started a job on campus, performing maintenance on the robotics in the Electromechanical Lab in the Whitney Applied Technology Center. Brown feels fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. "Maybe in the past people felt they couldn't find a path here that would lead to a very technical or in-demand job, but that's not the case any more. Kids need to dream bigger. If I can do math and get straight As, any one can. That's a fact!"
Amazon has been an amazing corporate partner, selecting OCC for its Career Choice Program which gives employees the opportunity to attend college tuition-free in the academic program of their choice. Amazon also gifted OCC $50,000 to support Student Success Coaches at the college.
The field trip to Amazon was coordinated by OCC's Ted Mathews and Ryan Nellenback.