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Senator Blackburn visits Warren County
Marsha Blackburn2.jpg
Senator Marsha Blackburn observes a FANUC robot while senior robotics trainer Charles King describes the technology. Blackburn visited Motlow’s Automation and Robotics Training Center on Friday afternoon to learn about the advanced workplace development programs offered in Warren County. - photo by Lacy Garrison

Senator Marsha Blackburn toured Motlow’s $5.5 million Automation and Robotics Training Center in McMinnville to learn about the advanced workplace development programs offered in Warren County.

Blackburn explained that she has an interest in technology and 21st century warfare so she was thrilled to accept an invitation from Motlow State Community College president Dr. Michael Torrence to see first-hand the education being given to the workforce.

“With the amount of industry you see in healthcare with 3-D printing, the work being done on defense technologies, the work being done in auto manufacturing… this is a center for training that workforce so it’s good for me to see what is being done,” said Blackburn. “All of this takes place because of a partnership from the local, state and federal level and we are one part of that team to make sure certain Tennessee is successful.”

A condensed 45-minute video presentation presented in the Robotics Conference Room, showcased workplace development programs offered at Warren County schools, TCAT, Motlow in McMinnville and the Robotics Center. 

During the one video, Director of Schools Bobby Cox explained to Blackburn that the screens and units that the students could be seen working on is also in elementary schools from 6th through 8th grade so they’re learning about megatronics and robotics as well.

“Are you teaching coding in elementary,” asked Blackburn.

“Not as of yet, that’s something we’ve been looking at,” answered Cox.

Larry Flatt, director of advanced robotics, spoke about the facility and its future. Although they have only been open two months, Flatt said students from all over the U.S. are “knocking their doors down trying to come”.

“We have five classrooms that will handle about 75 students and we’re completely filled with students,” described Flatt. “We are not particularly constrained by physical seat space as we are by the fact that the building is already too small and we need more robots and we are the only educational facility within in a 100-mile radius that have three competing robot companies in the same building.”  

Afterward, a tour led by senior robotics trainer Charles King, gave Blackburn a first-hand look at high-tech robots in action. Blackburn shared that she was impressed by the progress.