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Two North Alabama community colleges battle for robotics center

Two north Alabama
community colleges are jockeying for a robotics center that is being touted as
a national center for robotics research, education, and training.

Gov. Bob Riley said he and two-year system Chancellor
Bradley Byrne are meeting with officials from Wallace
State Community College
and Calhoun Community
College and a decision is expected in coming

The cost and funding source for the three-phase Alabama
Robotics Innovation
Center project have not been
determined, but it could possibly be around $40 million, Riley said.

“We’ll sit down and try to figure which of the two or
three places that would like this project would be the best location,”
Riley told the Decatur Daily in a Wednesday story.

“All will do a fantastic job, and the people they serve
will benefit tremendously from this project,” he said.

Wallace State Community College President Vicki Hawsey said
her college is emphasizing its Hanceville location, which is near the largest
number of advanced manufacturing industries in the state, near Birmingham,
near the center of the state and near Interstate 65.

Wallace State
officials met with Riley and Byrne in a closed meeting on Tuesday. Byrne also
heard a presentation from Calhoun Community
College officials, who made a similar meeting
with Riley in January.

Calhoun promoted its Decatur
location, saying it was near Huntsville
and its high-tech and aerospace industries, in one of the fastest-growing
areas, and near Redstone Arsenal.

Both colleges promoted their strengths in work force
development and their existing robotics classes.

Both schools are in regional consortiums funded with federal
grants that might benefit a robotics center and have property available for the

Calhoun officials offered more land possibilities at
Tuesday’s meeting with the chancellor, with Calhoun President Marilyn Beck
presenting at least five locations.

Byrne said he would like to see the two schools form a
partnership in robotics, although that doesn’t solve the location problem.

“I said this morning that Calhoun’s presentation would
be a hard target (for Wallace) to reach, but Vicki and her crew presented an
excellent proposal,” Byrne said. “We have two excellent colleges and
two excellent proposals.”

Information from: The Decatur Daily,

– Associated Press

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