Motlow State earns NADO Award in support of workforce development

The Automation & Robotics Training Center (ARTC), a first for Tennessee that allows Motlow to partner with business and industry to support their specialized robotic training needs, is working to meet the growing need for skilled robotic technicians. Middle Tennessee is rife with opportunity for robotics graduates, as there are more than 7,000 robots already in operation in the middle Tennessee area, and that number is growing daily. Robots are the wave of the future in industry, and Motlow is working to meet this workforce need. (PHOTO: Motlow)

WASHINGTON – Motlow State has been selected to receive a 2019 National Association of Developmental Organizations (NADO) Impact Award for its support of regional workforce development through the Automation and Robotics Training Center (ARTC) in McMinnville. Impact Award recipients will be recognized at a special reception during NADO’s 2019 Annual Training Conference, scheduled for Oct. 19-22 in Reno, Nev. 

“This project’s ability to gain traction and make swift forward motion is a product of regional public-private partnerships,” said Dr. Michael Torrence, president of Motlow. 

The ARTC provides short-term training and industry-recognized certifications for the world’s three leading robotics manufacturers. and provides PLC training as well. Under Torrence’s leadership, the ARTC is already expanding its course portfolio to include Mitsubishi and Rockwell training. Torrence has a stated mission to build other public private-partnerships that advance the needs of middle Tennessee. He holds up the ARTC success as evidence of the effectiveness in championing blended missions.

ARTC classes and outreach efforts also include teaching and training in coding and other STEM programs. The ARTC serves as the lab site for Motlow’s associate of applied sciences degree. The college seated its first cohort of degree-seeking students this fall. The facility was completed ahead of schedule, began teaching classes within two weeks of opening and is now poised to provide instruction to national clients.

“There are scores of people who deserve a frameable copy of this award. It took a lot of teamwork to lift this initiative,” said Terri Bryson, vice president of external affairs at Motlow who, with Larry Flatt, Motlow executive director of the robotics center, led the development and launch of the ARTC. 

“We should all pause and reflect on the energy and power of this collaborative effort,” Bryson added. “This is not an award for an idea, or a plan, or a building. This is an award for impact, and the impact it recognizes is the result of model public-private partnerships collaborating to achieve shared missions. That’s a big deal. It endorses our regional partnership as a national model. A lot of people deserve hugs and handshakes for this award. We should all be eating cake over this piece of paper.”

See related story: Motlow opens world class robotics center in McMinnville

“With the completion of the ARTC facility, we are now offering courses that are essential to the needs of local industries that utilize robots,” said Flatt. “We are proud to have received this award in recognition of our hard work and dedication to meeting the region’s robotics workforce need.”

The Upper Cumberland Development District (UCDD), which includes Warren County, nominated the ARTC. According to the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) report prepared by the UCDD, workforce development is the number one priority for the region. The implementation of the ARTC was a highlight of that report.

“Motlow is grateful to UCDD for recognizing the impact the ARTC will have on workforce development in our region,” added Bryson.

The NADO Impact Awards program honors NADO members for their creative approaches to advancing regional community and economic development and improved quality of life. The projects recognized by NADO have made significant impact on specific regions and demonstrate the diversity of services and program delivery provided by regional development organizations across the country.

“NADO is a unique quality indicator for Motlow’s robotics mission,” continued Bryson. “This is national recognition for a regional initiative. To win NADO, it takes demonstrating concrete and collective advances in community, workforce and economic development.

“This is evidence that what we started is worthy of national dialog and national attention. When you can teach high-wage skills in four days in a friendly, easily accessible, student-centric, high-tech specialty facility, happily, word starts to get around.”

The ARTC, celebrated at a grand opening event earlier this year, is located adjacent to the Motlow McMinnville campus on 4.5 acres of land donated by the Warren County Commission. The facility is the first of its kind in Tennessee and is designed to support the specialized needs of business and industry, providing training for the top three robot manufacturers in the country: ABB, FANUC, and Yaskawa Motoman.

Under the vision and leadership of Fred Rascoe, dean of career and technical programs at Motlow State, the program also provides two-year degrees in mechatronics with a concentration in robotics. Rascoe worked with the community team that authored the Drive to 55 grant. That team included members of the Business Roundtable Action Committee (BRAC), regional economic development leaders, industry leaders and subject matter experts throughout the region.

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