Kettering University graduate's company a major supplier to FIRST Robotics community
“We’re finding more and more international popularity and that part of our business is really growing.”
Mark Koors '78 had a long and successful engineering career that spanned 30 years at Delphi, the same place that he completed his co-op placement while at Kettering University, then known as General Motors Institute.
|Mark Koors '78|
“The co-op counted for my retirement,” Koors said.
Koors graduated degrees in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering and retired as a staff systems engineer from Delphi in 2008. He was expecting to retire quietly in Kokomo, Indiana, and work on a few freelance projects when he discovered a business opportunity related to FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics.
“I was prompted to help with a robotics team at Delphi,” Koors said. "Every year we would publish designs that we did on the competition robots. Designs are great but people decided that they need products.”
New and innovative robotics products were desired by the FIRST community, which resulted in Koors and co-founder Andy Baker starting their own company, AndyMark, in 2004.
AndyMark aims to support and grow robotics education and innovative mechanical design for mobility applications. They are a supporter of FIRST Robotics competitions across the country as they design and supply specialized robotics components to teams.
“We’ve been steadily growing every year,” Koors said. “We’re finding more and more international popularity and that part of our business is really growing.”
AndyMark ships products to approximately 40 countries worldwide and is currently considering distribution in China, which would open them up to one of the largest markets in the world. Koors estimates that 80 percent of their distribution is to the FIRST community and while that community grows internationally, it also continues to expand in the United States as well. Approximately 25 percent of the student population at Kettering University has participated in FIRST Robotics and in September of 2014, the University will open a full-time facility -- the only one of its kind on a college campus in the country -- to promote FIRST involvement in the community.
“This facility will allow Kettering to offer a truly immersive experience for the teams from the community who are housed here,” said Kettering University President Robert McMahan. “The students on these teams will have a year-round home on our campus. More importantly, this will give more schools in the area the opportunity to start FIRST programs.”
Koors estimates that AndyMark typically introduces 100 new products a year and is always innovating and attempting to bring new designs and items to teams. In addition to products, AndyMark is creating curriculum for high schools along with the products with the aim of providing a unique and creative education to users. There’s little doubt that Kettering students who have participated in FIRST Robotics or will do so in the future at the permanent facility on campus, will at some point have encountered products from AndyMark.
“When we first started the company, Andy and I thought it would be something to do in the evening,” Koors said. “But it’s grown so much.”
Written By Pardeep Toor | Contact: Patrick Hayes - firstname.lastname@example.org - (810) 762-9639