Preparing Alabama’s future workforce: RTP

by Ed Castile, AIDT  
Nov. 1, 2011 – In the past year we have opened up the first two phases of the Alabama Robotic Technology Park (RTP) to rave reviews and the third phase is on the horizon. What an enormous impact this project will have on the lives of Alabama citizens for years to come. This will certainly be one of the most influential economic development projects in the state of Alabama and quite possibly, the country! The RTP located in the north Alabama communities of Decatur and Athens is a concept unlike any other, anywhere. It’s simply a dynamic approach to developing new technology and training workers in robotics and automation technology.


So why is this important? Well it’s been said that the only “constant” is “change” and nothing has changed quite so rapidly and dynamically as technology. In the last five years, cell phone technology, computer technology, and robotics technology have all been evolving at an exponential rate. Think about the next 5 years, the next 10 years even and how rapidly such technology will continue affect our lives, and Robotics Technology will play a major role in advancement of such technologies. Contrary to popular belief, robotics technology is not about cutting jobs. It is about creating more sophisticated opportunities that require a more advanced skill-level. In today’s fast-paced manufacturing world, robotics and automation technology are changing just as rapidly as the cell phone technology. Of particular importance is the safety and defense of our nation, which depends highly on technology in order to combat ever-evolving threats. Missile defense and the threat of chemical warfare alone are enough to underscore this importance. We MUST have a workforce that is highly trained and skilled in robotics and automation technologies. This is why the RTP is so important.

The RTP is a collaboration of businesses in the region, our AIDT innovative training program, Calhoun Community College (and other Alabama two year colleges), and the state’s research universities. This three-phase campus approach offers opportunities for training and education, research and development and entrepreneurship.  Phase 1 is designed for educating and training robotics and automated technologies. Phase 2 is designed for research and development of ground-breaking robotics and automation technologies and Phase 3 is designed to integrate the new technologies into existing companies or grow the new technologies through a manufacturer.

All the major robot and automation manufacturers are represented at RTP and they work together. The objective is to train technicians in more than one robot brand so when they get into the manufacturing plant they will be able to operate and trouble-shoot multiple brands that are working together. For many of the robot and automation manufacturers RTP is the only training facility they have in the USA. We are proud to be their full partner as they assist us in developing the existing and future workforce of Alabama.

The collaborative efforts at RTP are helping to move Alabama to the forefront of the technology boom, which will position our state as the frontrunner in developing its workforce to meet the demands of business and industry. The Alabama workforce will lead a new generation of workers.

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