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Mt. Juliet High School welcomes robot

Xavier Smith • Updated Nov 5, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Mt. Juliet High School celebrated a homecoming and step forward Friday as the school unveiled the county’s second industrial robot aimed to boost the district’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics program.

The school joined Watertown High School as the homes of new FANUC robots, which are used in more manufacturing and industrial facilities than any other brand in the world. Each machine costs $37,000, and school and district leaders said the impact it would have on the future of the county and possibly the state’s STEM presence is invaluable. 

“This is a dream that [Mt. Juliet High School principal Mel Brown] and I have had for eight years. If you’ll remember back approximately eight years ago, the governor came to this high school and kicked off STEM. He kicked it off for the whole state here. Today is another step in STEM education,” said Bill Moss, Wilson County career technical education supervisor. 

“They rolled it out at this school. At that point, we weren’t even in the mix,” said Brown, who also noted the work of Mt. Juliet alum and NASA astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore while aboard the International Space Station. 

Wilmore successfully installed the first zero-gravity 3D printer while on the space station, which allows NASA to practically email needed materials to the space station from the Marshall Space Flight Center near Huntsville, Ala. 

“At that time, he was taking a STEM operative and making parts for the spacecraft. At the same time, under the leadership of [Mt. Juliet STEM teacher David Haines] here at Mt. Juliet High School, we were doing the same thing,” Brown said. 

Moss said this next step could pay off for students in their career and personal lives. Moss said he learned that by 2025, it is projected 90 percent of the U.S. population will have a robot in their household or deal with one daily while at work. 

“This is an opportunity that many students your age will never get to experience. The opportunity here is huge,” said Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright. “This will open up opportunities for you whether you go straight into college or into a career.”

Haines led a demonstration of the machine’s capabilities, which included speech and “dance.” Moss said although the machine is smaller than what most people would expect, the same skills are required to operate a similar machine 10 times larger.

Moss also continued to thank G.C. Hixson, Wilson County Joint Economic and Community Development director, as he did at a similar event earlier this week in Watertown for his work in continually providing information and guidance to the school system about evolutions in industry careers and industry technology.

Hamilton County currently has the only other high school in the state with a FANUC robot and certified training program on site. 

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