Motlow State Automation & Robotics Training Center now open for business

Motlow President Michael Torrence cuts ribbon for Motlow's Automation & Robotics Training Center

An exciting new era of training and career development arrived in Middle Tennessee when Motlow State Community College held a grand-opening ceremony of the new Automation & Robotics Training Center (ARTC) in McMinnville April 26

An open house will be held May 8 -- from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. -- for the public to get a first-hand look at the state-of-the-art training center. The 12,500-square-feet facility is located on 4.5 acres of land, donated by the Warren County Commission, adjacent to the Motlow State and Tennessee College of Applied Technology McMinnville campus.

"At the ARTCm our short-term objective is to provide a highly skilled workforce that is second-to-none in robotics, automation, and advanced manufacturing systems," said Terri Bryson, Motlow's vice president of workforce innovation. "This will attract new and expanding businesses into our region. Ultimately, our long-term mission is to create new employment opportunities for our students by literally growing the number and quality of jobs available to them."

The ARTC is unique in the fact that it houses robots and training equipment from the top three international robot manufacturers. There are currently more than 7,000 robots in manufacturing operation within a 70-mile radius of the ARTC.

The new facility opened with six teaching laboratories that include industrial robots from ABB, FANUC and Motoman. The robots provide the capability to teach robotic welding, material handling and work cell design. Additionally, there is an expanding array of automation and PLC (programmable logic controller) equipment to provide training to meet the needs of our industry partners. Certification class sizes are by nature very small because of the one-on-one training necessary and the fact that each student must have dedicated time to learn and demonstrate competencies on the robot trainers.

“With the completion of the ARTC facility we are offering courses that are essential to the needs of local industry that utilize robots,” said Larry Flatt, Motlow executive director of the robotics center. “Our vision of formally partnering with industry to provide training to the exact specifications of the robot manufacturer has come to fruition. The center will provide opportunity for individuals already employed in the robotics field to receive additional manufacturing specific education and certification. It also provides an educational pathway for Motlow students who are seeking an Associate of Applied Science degree or certification in robotics.”

In addition, the ARTC offers automation training, including digital systems, sensors, electronics, hydraulics, pneumatics, programming and alarm management. Robotic training can be realized through two distinctive pathways: training for industry and job seekers, and instruction for college credit.

Dr. Michael Torrence, Motlow president, continues to reach out to industry and community partners to keep the program growing. “The ARTC’s launch was funded through a Drive to 55 grant,” said Torrence. “It is a collaboration among the State of Tennessee, the Tennessee Board of Regents, Motlow State, and regional business leaders. Sustainment and growth of the program will depend on future corporate and philanthropic support. We built this together, and we must sustain it together.”

Robotics degrees and robotics industry-recognized training credentials will fuel workforce development for industry, meet existing demand for workers, create new high-wage, high-demand jobs in robotics and automation, expand the tax base for the region, and help Tennessee reach its “Drive to 55” education goals.

Initial corporate industry credentialing and certification opportunities begins at the ARTC in early May. Beginning in fall 2019, students will be able to take courses leading to a Mechatronics degree with a concentration in Robotics. For additional information on the ARTC, visit

The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.