In an effort to promote innovations at the Robotics Technology Park, Calhoun Community College officials Friday welcomed U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions to tour the facility.
Sessions not only met with college faculty and staff, but he also toured classrooms and got a glimpse of what officials believe could lead to a job creation boom in the state and nation.
Sessions described the facility as “impressive,” and said it was an example of how Alabama technology competes in the world marketplace.
“We have better infrastructure and a more reliable support system,” he said. “Robotics could create jobs by decreasing the wage differential.”
Following a slideshow presentation describing the function of the RTP and a video focused on the unmanned aerial vehicle competition in May, Sessions was given a tour of Phase I and Phase II of the facility.
Calhoun officials allowed Sessions inside a classroom, where he spoke with instructor Steve Lomax of Rockwell Automation. Students in the class, who were learning about programming technologies, were from Honda in Lincoln, Sara Lee in Florence and Electricfil in Elkmont.
“This is a fabulous facility, and it exceeds my expectations,” Sessions said after the tour. “We supported this process from the beginning because I thought it was special. It got federal dollars, but it got local support, too. It’s that broad-based support that has created something special.”
The 35,000-square-foot Phase II of the RTP opened in late August, and Gov. Robert Bentley was on hand to cut the ribbon on the project. The $8.3 million building features a test facility for companies currently in the robotics manufacturing industry. The building will be used for the research, development and testing of leading edge robotics used for military projects, space exploration, and other applications.
Part I, the 52,000-square-foot Robotic Maintenance Training Center, opened last November. Currently, short-term, non-credit training classes are being taught in the facility by instructors from Alabama Industrial Development Training.
Terry Griffin, director of the RTP, said Phase III will be an integration and entrepreneurial development facility used to set up new technology and train employees.
The facility will also be available at no cost to eligible groups, though utility expenses will be divided on a prorated share.