Robotics and Automation Studio for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation

Western Carolina University
Program Area:
Open Grants Program
County of Applicant:

This award provides funding to Western Carolina University (WCU) for the development of a studio for Robotics and Automation that will support workforce preparation in Western North Carolina. The region’s industry has identified robotics and automation as a critical skills gap among bachelor’s level graduates. This project would improve robotics and automation education by developing technical skills such as design, analysis, synthesis, simulation, and control of robotic and automated systems. Engineering students can graduate with an undergraduate certificate and a concentration in Robotics and Automation. The enhanced training offered in the proposed studio will support the region’s advanced manufacturing industry, including companies like Cummins-Meritor, GE Aerospace, Snap-On, Pratt & Whitney, and others, enabling industry to hire and retain local talent. Currently, 80 to 100 students complete the WCU undergraduate engineering programs annually. The university expects that an additional 20 students will graduate with the Robotics & Animation certificate per year by Spring 2026, and 25 students will graduate from the Engineering (Robotics and Animation) program per year by Spring 2028. The studio will also allow WCU to strengthen partnerships with community colleges and establish training programs for regional industry. WCU will use other funding sources for the facility upgrades, faculty, and simulation software. Golden LEAF funds are for equipment.

Jeri Hansen4121 Little Savannah RoadCullowhee, North Carolina 28723(828) 227-7170
Areas Served:
Buncombe, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, Polk, Swain, Transylvania

Any project more than a couple of years old may not reflect current Board priorities.
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