Motlow State wins Community Colleges of Appalachia award

The Motlow State Automation & Robotics Training Center (ARTC) (PHOTO: Motlow)

MCMINNVILLE – Tennessee community colleges, Motlow State and Cleveland State, captured two of the three annual awards issued by Community Colleges of Appalachia (CCA), an association of nearly 100 colleges in 13 Appalachian states from New York to Mississippi. 

Motlow State won CCA’s 2020 Workforce Development Award for its Advanced Robotics Training Center, a state-of-the-art facility that opened in McMinnville in April 2019. The center provides world-class training in robotic, automation and advanced manufacturing systems, and is a workforce training and development hub that enables students to earn an Associate degree in mechatronics with a concentration in robotics and non-credit students to earn industry-recognized certificates in only four days.

The award was presented this week by Community Colleges of Appalachia Executive Director Anne McNutt in a virtual ceremony, held in lieu of the association’s 28th annual conference that was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. McNutt said there was an association record-high 47 nominations for the three awards, representing 22 separate colleges across the association’s 13 states.

There were 15 nominations for the Instructional Program Award, which recognizes innovative programs designed and implemented to foster excellence in teaching and learning, and 16 nominations for the Workforce Development Award, recognizing innovative programs or activities that promote workforce, community and/or economic development.

Cleveland State won CCA’S 2020 Instructional Program Award for its Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries (FWF) Associate of Science degree program, which has grown from four students at its launch in 2013 to nearly 70 students today. The FWF program gives students the academic and field experience they need to continue their education at universities or enter the workforce immediately with an associate degree. The program provides students with the skill sets needed to help preserve our natural resources for generations to come.

Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Flora W. Tydings congratulated faculty, students and staff of the two programs for capturing two of the three prestigious awards that the association issues every year. 

“I know the quality of teaching and learning underway in these two programs,” Dr. Tydings said. “I’m proud of the innovative work that occurs every day at all 13 Tennessee community colleges, and I congratulate Cleveland State and Motlow State for these honors recognizing their specific hard work on behalf of our students and communities.”

Both of the programs recognized by CCA benefit not only their immediate areas but the entire region.

Motlow’s Advanced Robotics Training Center is a major resource for its entire region, creating new career opportunities for students and training needed for existing and future advanced manufacturing industries. Business, industry, education and civic leaders from across Middle Tennessee participated in the center’s opening last year.

Among the many activities that Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries students at Cleveland State take part in each year is the Student Wildlands Adventure Program, which allows for the exchange of students across the country to learn about resource management in environments and cultures different from their own. It was also recipient of the regional Gifford Pinchot Excellence in Interpretation and Conservation Education Award from the U.S. Forest Service. Cleveland State is home of the Greg A. Vital Center for Natural Resources and Conservation.

Motlow State President Michael Torrence and Larry Flatt, executive director of advanced robotics, accepted on behalf of Motlow. Cleveland State President Bill Seymour and Robert Brewer, biology professor and coordinator of the FWF program, accepted the award on behalf of the college. 

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