Alabama Looks to Industry of the Future

To put Alabama ahead of the pack, Governor Bob Riley is investing in the robotics research industry.

Governor Bob Riley announced in June that Calhoun Community College in Decatur will be the site of a robotics research, education and training campus that will help the state attract new industry, support the needs of existing industry and train high-tech workers.The Advanced Technology Robotics Research and Development Complex will consist of three facilities, each targeted to meet a specific industry need. Gov. Riley first proposed the robotics campus in 2006.

This will make Alabama the nation’s leader in robotics research and development. It will make Alabama the national leader in robotics technology education. The benefits will be remarkable for our economy, for our workforce and for our future,” says Gov. Riley.


• Alabama’s Marshall Space Flight Center received $2.5 billion in FY 2007, representing 15.3% of NASA’s total budget.

• Alabama ranks 12th nationally for Department of Defense Prime Contracts, totaling more than $6.9 billion in FY 2006.

• The aerospace industry has created more than 73,000 direct jobs in Alabama.

• Annual payroll for Alabama’s aerospace jobs is more than $3 billion.

• GKN Aerospace added 250 jobs in 2007 and invested $21 million to expand its Tallassee, AL facility.

In choosing Calhoun Community College as the site for the robotics complex, the governor stressed it met all the needed requirements, including proximity to Huntsville. Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, AL also was considered for the robotics complex.

“Our vision from the beginning was a state-of-the-art robotics campus affiliated with a two-year college that is close to Huntsville’s aerospace research hub and easily accessible to our manufacturing industries. Calhoun Community College is a perfect fit,” Gov. Riley says.

Robotics manufacturers pledged to provide $42 million worth of robots for thE robotics campus during a meeting with the governor last September. Representatives from 12 robotic companies were brought together with Gov. Riley by AIDT, an institute of the state’s Department of Postsecondary Education, and agreed also to help design different elements of the campus.

This robotics complex is a major part of Governor Riley’s vision for Alabama in his quest for our state to be the world leader in manufacturing technology, continued research and development of cutting edge robotics technology, and the Mecca for companies that want to be leaders in their respective markets,” says Ed Castille, director of AIDT.

With this new robotic center, our system will be a national leader in robotics training on all makes of robots,” says Chancellor Bradley Byrne of the Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education. “Moreover,our partnership with Alabama’s universities, particularly University of Alabama-Huntsville, on the next research and development building for this campus will allow us to be ahead of the curve as these amazing technologies evolve.”

The robotics campus will consist of three individual training plants each targeted to a specific industry need. The first plant will be a 40,000-square-foot facility where technicians will be trained to work on robotic machinery. Trainers supplied by top robotics builders will staff the plant. This first plant will be home to several major robotics and automation brands, and each will have a significant space for training and product demonstration. About 450 people are expected to be trained at the facility each year.

The second plant will be used by NASA and the U.S. Army Missile Command for the purpose of research, development and testing of leading robotics used for military projects and space exploration. The facility will have appropriate infrastructure to support these activities with substantial outdoor areas for testing in a variety of environments.

The third plant of the robotics campus will allow companies to build and adapt robots for new industries. Start-up plants will be able to set up manufacturing lines to integrate software and equipment, test systems and train maintenance and production staff. All three plants will have a total investment of approximately $71 million.