Daily News Journal, August 8, 2013
SMYRNA — More technology than ever is under the hood of the average car.
With that in mind, the Tennessee Board of Regents is scheduled to open a $35 million, 154,000-square-foot facility on about 22 acres off of Nissan Drive by Jan. 1, 2015, TBR Vice Chancellor James D. King said at Smyrna Rotary Thursday.
The facility will serve several hundred Tennessee College of Applied Technology students going through an 18-month program.
It also will serve Nissan employees who need additional training.
“We’re moving quickly because the governor wants this building up and running,” he said. “Nissan needs this facility. They’re expanding with just so many good things going on.”
Tentative program offerings include industrial maintenance/mechatronics, auto body, automotive/hybrid diesel, machine tool technology, welding, computer technology, tool and die, and technology foundations.
“It’s not going to just be the traditional auto body repair,” King said. “It’s going to be training for state-of-the-art industry.”
King spoke to a crowd that included businesspeople and community leaders including State Sen. Jim Tracy and State Rep. Mike Sparks.
“When Jim (Tracy) and I came through high school, in what we called at that time vo-tech education, you put Johnny in the automotive program because you thought Johnny couldn’t do anything else,” King said. “Right now, Johnny in an automotive program needs to be one of the brightest kids coming out of high school.”
During the recent recession students coming out of Tennessee College of Applied Technology schools didn’t have as much trouble finding jobs, he said.
“If you’ve got Johnny and he’s an ASE master technician in all areas, Johnny could be knocking on the door of $100,000 a year,” King said. “It’s nothing for some of these young people to come out of an 18-month or two-year program walking out the door making in the 50s.”
Sparks, who worked for the Nissan plant for eight years during the 1990s, praised the project.
“This is something special for this community,” he said. “This is going to help job growth.”
Cheryl Hyland, who is the director of Motlow State Community College in Smyrna and a member of Smyrna Rotary, said she was interested in the new facility. Motlow has a similar partnership with Bridgestone on a mechatronics program, also aimed at preparing students for the workforce.
“I think it’s tremendously exciting,” she said. “I’m looking forward to working together.”
Contact Taylor Loyal at 615-278-5170 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @taylorloyal.