Wednesday, May 25, 2022
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TCAT-Livingston Applying For Robots, Transportation And More Teachers

TCAT-Livingston and Six Upper Cumberland School Districts are partnered on a $1 million grant application.

The application is through Tennessee’s GIVE 2.0 program.

Operations and Facilities Vice President Jeff Slagle said the goal is to grow the region’s advanced manufacturing programs. Slagle said a large portion of the funding is aimed at getting students accustomed to working along side the co-workers of the future.

“Collaborative robots are starting to be a bigger part of it because they can work in conjunction with a human operator,” Slagle said. “They can work right along side doing the same types of tasks and we don’t have to have the guard system.”

Slagle said they want to add three robots, an entire manufacturing cell, all adding up to roughly $400,000 in equipment. He said despite robots continuing to grow in manufacturing, the manufacturers need for skilled workers is growing.

“We know that those are in demand jobs, they’re high-wage and they require a high-degree of skill,” Slagle said. “So there’s a lot of technical training that is involved in training juniors and seniors in this advanced manufacturing program of study. We know that the jobs are out there, we’ve got projections that show us a very strong job market over the next five to eight years.”

Slagle said that White County High School and Cookeville High School already have advanced manufacturing instructors. He said the rest of the grant funding would be to boost access and opportunities in Overton, Jackson, Clay and White Counties.

“We would use that to add another instructor to grow the program and add additional seats for dual enrollment high school students,” Slagle said. “We would also use part of that $1 million to add a Work Based Learning Student Success Coach. That person would help with scheduling career fairs, job fairs, they would get guest speakers into all those six counties. They would be talking to students and recruiting students into this program of study. It would also pay for that person to go out into the workforce and add additional sites so that we could have interns, placing high school interns into the workforce to get that on the job training after they’ve been through our classes.”

Slagle said they still want to do more for students.

“We would also pay for bus transportation for four of those counties,” Slagle said. “Obviously Clay, Jackson, Pickett and Overton, we’re busing those students here on site at TCAT-Livingston. So that would be for bus transportation for those students.”

Slagle said he expects to hear whether the grant application is successful by late-October, early-November. He said if the application is successful, TCAT-Livingston can start buying equipment and posting job openings in the winter.

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