Campbellsville University working with local schools and Team Taylor County with robotics classes

By Austin Yates, student news writer

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Austyn Thornton of Campbellsville Independent Schools works in the robotics class. (Campbellsville University Photo by Austin Yates)

CAMPBELLSVILLE, KY (11/25/2013)(readMedia)-- When one thinks of Campbellsville University, "Robotics" isn't the first thing that comes to mind. Thanks to a recent partnership with Green County Area Technology Center, Campbellsville and Taylor County schools and Team Taylor County, a science fiction fantasy is becoming a reality for local high school students.

Campbellsville University's Technology Training Center II on Nancy Cox Drive in Campbellsville is housing a new Robotics course taught through the Green County Area Technology Center (formally known as the "Vocational School"). The class is being taught to high school students from Taylor County and Campbellsville High Schools. David Rauch of the Green County ATC will teach the class.

"I'm really surprised," Ron McMahan, executive director for Team Taylor County, said. The program doesn't just have students who are going straight into the workforce, but it is for students who are heading to college after graduation.

"Whether they are going to college or not, we are getting students ready for the workforce. The students in this program are top notch at what they do," McMahan said.

Students are also showing enthusiasm for the class as well. "Thanks to the currently enrolled students' enthusiasm, we now have eight-10 more students on a waiting list for the class. We're starting small but were hoping that the program will develop in the years to come."

Rauch said, "What kids are learning here is going to help them wherever they go after graduation."

"Computer engineering is what I want to do," Eric Lamer, a junior at Campbellsville High School, said. "Knowing the robotics helps with things like programing and coding. This class has helped better me with what I want to do with my life."

"I've enjoyed it," Austin Colvin, a sophomore from Taylor County High School, said. "It's been difficult, but it's been fun." Colvin has discovered, through the course, his skills in mechanics. "I'm more of mechanical type person...I'm wanting to be a disc rotor technician."

In previous years, vocational students would have to commute to the GCATC via bus during afternoon classes. "Students don't want to travel to Greensburg in a bus," John Chowning, vice president for church and external relations and executive assistant to the president, said.

"The local industry and schools want more students to be able to take certain training programs through Green County Area Technology Center," he said. "There's no money for such new centers by the state so were partnering to use the space in the Technology Center."

McMahan said the commute and high school class scheduling conflicts for students was the primary reason for a satellite location in Campbellsville.

One of the benefits of the class and other ones taught by GCATC is how it affects the local economy. "Area industries need more career ready workers trained in these programs. This creates a need for a facility in Campbellsville," Chowning said.

Michael Rodenberg, president of Murakami Manufacturing USA, said, "We need people in the area who know how to operate these kinds of machines. For these students, we want them to get excited about robotics because of its use in manufacturing and engineering."

After his visit to the Area Technology Center, Rodenberg and Murakami USA donated $90,000 in obsolete material to the program.

"After visiting the group and seeing what they could do, I could see how our parts we had could be used on their machines," he said.

Rodenberg said when their company understands the real needs, it allows them to contribute in a more practical way, such as donating equipment and components and their time to teach and inspire.

"We look forward to partnering with the school systems of Green County, Taylor County, Campbellsville and Campbellsville University is encouraging our students to develop their talents as well as working together to create opportunities in the future for local advanced and degreed technical education," he said.

The classes (much like the robots) are being built from the ground up and hope to get bigger and more expansive as time goes on.

"This will attract high school students and adults to the campus. Some other longer term partnerships could result from this as well," Chowning said.

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 3,600 students offering 63 undergraduate options, 17 master's degrees, five postgraduate areas and eight pre-professional programs. The website for complete information is


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Dave Rauch, instructor, looks over work being done at the robotics class by from left: Fayth Wise of Taylor County Schools, top; Brookylan Cox of Taylor County Schools and Austyn Thornton of Campbellsville. (Campbellsville University Photo by Austin Yates)

Austyn Thornton of Campbellsville Independent Schools works in the robotics class. (Campbellsville University Photo by Austin Yates)