McMinnville is gearing up to offer high-tech advanced robotics training in the near future thanks to the largest grant ever awarded to Motlow State Community College.

On Wednesday, November 16, Gov. Bill Haslam announced Motlow State Community College as a recipient of the Drive to 55 Capacity Fund grant in the amount of $5.5 million dollars. The grant will fund the construction of the 12,425 square‐foot Advanced Robotics Training Center (ARTC) near Motlow State’s McMinnville campus and will serve as a training destination for businesses across the county and abroad.

Providing advanced robotics training is a natural progression of the training already being offered through McMinnville’s Tennessee College of Applied Technology and Motlow State Community College. Both schools offer cutting-edge advanced mechatronics training utilizing the use of robots. Once the center is operational, students can receive an associate degree in advanced robotics, a level of education pioneered by Motlow State.  Warren County was the first in the state to offer mechatronics training and will now be the first to offer advanced robotics training.

The Drive to 55 grant includes the cost of robots and training equipment by the top three national robot manufacturers – ABB, Fanuc, and Yaskawa/Motoman – to instruct students in design, operation, and maintenance of industrial robots.  The facility will also be a step-ahead of any training facility around, offering ventilation to accommodate robotics welding. This advantage will allow them to provide specialty training useful to the automotive industry sector. The ARTC will provide an employer‐driven career pathway to funnel skilled workers into high‐demand manufacturing careers.

The demand for skilled workers is what sparked the discussion among local business and industry leaders several years ago.

“This project has been led by industry from day one,” stated Todd Herzog, chair of the Business Roundtable, a local committee of industry executives who began to pursue the robotics training facility in 2014. “We had an overwhelming support from local industry and their great enthusiasm moved the project forward.”

Responding to the local manufacturing need for a workforce training in robotics, the ARTC will serve both traditional and nontraditional students in Tennessee Upper Cumberland region through a new Associate Degree program in Mechatronics with a Robotics concentration, as well as non-credit certification courses in industrial robot operations. The ARTC is expected to open in 2018.

The ARTC is designed to serve students and existing industry. The training center will equip students with high-demand advanced robotics skills to prepare them for high-paying jobs.  The ARTC will also provide regional industries such as Yorozu, Nissan, and Volkswagen with a closer and more affordable place to send employees for robotics operations training needed on the job.

The training facility will be built on 4.3 acres of county donated land located in McMinnville adjacent to Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) and Motlow State, who are partners in this endeavor.

“This is a game changer for Warren County and the Upper Cumberland,” stated Mark Farley, executive director at the Upper Cumberland Development District. “The addition of the advanced robotics training center will provide a strong incentive for industrial recruitment and will make a significant impact on our region’s economy. We are proud of the leadership in Warren County who have worked diligently to see their dream become a reality.”

This project came to fruition from the efforts of McMinnville and Warren County leadership, the leadership of Motlow State and McMinnville’s TCAT, local industry leaders, Warren County’s Business Roundtable, Upper Cumberland Development District and volunteers.

The Drive to 55 Capacity Fund awarded a total of $24.3 million to ten colleges and universities across the state and is designed to support colleges and universities as enrollment increases since the launch of Tennessee Promise.

The Upper Cumberland Development District provides regional planning and assistance to the 14-county Upper Cumberland region to promote economic growth and community enhancement. Find UCDD on the web at and at