Jackson State to launch new robotics training program

Oct 9th, 2017

Jackson State Community College will receive about $175,000 to purchase cutting-edge equipment and create a unique robotics training center for manufacturing students and workers at companies in West Tennessee.

The funding allows Jackson State to become a certified trainer for FANUC robots - the primary brand used by manufacturers throughout the region. The community college will add three vision-equipped robots to its industrial technology program and become the only certified trainer in the Mid-South. The nearest program is in North Carolina.

"If you have the proper number of robots equipped the proper way, and your instructor has the proper training, you can be a certified site," said Jack Laser, Jackson State's director of workforce development. "It gives us one more thing to attract companies to the area and help existing companies upgrade their workforce."

The training center will allow manufacturers in Southwest Tennessee to enhance their competitiveness and provide opportunities for current workers to increase their skills and qualify for higher-paying jobs. It will also help recruit a major manufacturer for the Memphis Regional Megasite in Haywood County, as it differentiates the region from other competitive sites.

"When companies are looking for a site, they're looking more and more at the workforce," Laser said. "The more we are able to upgrade skills, the better off we'll be."

The project is a partnership with the Southwest Tennessee Development District, which serves an eight-county region and will administer a $200,000 grant from the Delta Regional Authority. The authority is a federal-state venture that works to create jobs, build communities, and improve lives through strategic investments in economic development. The regional authority recently announced $2.9 million in funding for nine projects in Tennessee.

Jackson State has one certified FANUC trainer and plans to add another, Laser said. The robots will be procured in the coming months, and the robotics training program will be added next year. Classes will be offered during the day as well as the evening to accommodate students and people with full-time jobs.

"We want to be able to offer whatever is convenient for our area manufacturers," Laser said.

Jackson State Community College provides accessible learning opportunities that enhance the lives of individuals, strengthen the workforce and empower the diverse communities of West Tennessee. The institution offers traditional and contemporary associate degrees, certificates, continuing education and enrichment, and college-readiness programs.

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