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Single-site design for robotics classes changed, Byrne says

By M.J. Ellington · (334) 262-1104

MONTGOMERY — Alabama may know in December where the first phase of a state robotics program will be, and Calhoun Community College is one of two locations in contention.

Alabama may not, at that time, know the location of the next phase.

Two-year college Chancellor Bradley Byrne said the original plan for a robotics campus with several robotics training, demonstration and research components on one site has changed.

Some people feel that a research university may be a better site for robotics research, Byrne said.

Others think placing components at multiple locations could work as well.

Calhoun President Marilyn Beck and Vicki Hawsey, president of Wallace State Community College in Hanceville want the robotics campus.

One thing that has not changed is Gov. Bob Riley’s belief that robotics training for industry belongs at a two-year college near the high-tech research in Huntsville. From the beginning, Riley said Calhoun is in contention.

Byrne said the final decision belongs to the governor. “Right now, we are talking,” Byrne said. “Even if I told you a site, that could change.”

Riley’s phase-one robotics plan calls for development of a training facility that costs about $16 million.

He met with a group of 12 manufacturers at the Capitol in September to talk about his ideas.

At that time, the robotics manufacturers had verbally committed to provide $42 million worth of robots for the Alabama program.

The manufacturers’ commitment relieves the state of a huge expense that could move the project forward faster, the governor said.

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