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McMinnville programmed for future with Robotics Center
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The first class began Monday at Motlow's Automation and Robotics Training Center in McMinnville.
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Katherine Cornett, left, and Tammy Cornett Ballew watch as a robot plays Tic Tac Toe on Wednesday.

Motlow State Community College president Dr. Michael Torrence found himself playing a game of Tic Tac Toe on Wednesday afternoon.

But this game was a little different because his opponent was a robot.

Dr. Torrence called the game the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to robot and human interaction and said Motlow is committed to offering the training needed for today’s workforce.

“As industry evolves, our education and training curricula must evolve too,” said Dr. Torrence. “Utilizing and integrating the existing and emergent technological platforms better prepares Tennesseans and positions us to be that much more competitive in the regional, national, and global marketplace.” 

His comments came during an open house for Motlow’s $5.5 million Automation and Robotics Training Center in McMinnville. Over 300 toured the new facility on Wednesday to get a first-hand look at high-tech robots in action.

“This will be good for the future because robotics is how it’s going to be from now on,” said visitor Katherine Cornett, who said she has three grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Cornett made a visit to the facility with her daughter because they had read so much about it in the newspaper and wanted to see if for themselves.

Automation and Robotics Training Center executive director Larry Flatt said he heard two recurring comments while mingling with visitors during the open house.

“One thing almost everyone said is they never thought they’d see anything like this in McMinnville,” said Flatt. “They also said there’s no doubt a facility like this will attract people from throughout the United States. So far we’re off to a good start. Our first class began Monday and we have students from California, Texas, Kentucky and Tennessee.”

Flatt said the initial course ends Friday afternoon with the eight students enjoying Warren County hospitality during their stay.

“They’ve stayed in our hotels, eaten in our restaurants and even played golf on our golf courses so this has done exactly what was hoped,” said Flatt.

The training center is open to companies looking to enhance the skills of their employees and it’s also open to students looking to earn college credit.