Skilled Grant Application Entries

Contact Information
InstitutionPellissippi State Community College
School ofWorkforce & Community Development & Engineering Technologies
Address10915 Hardin Valley Rd
PO Box 22990
Knoxville, Tennessee 37933
United States
Map It
Contact Person/Position
Full NameDanette Henneke
EmailEmail hidden; Javascript is required.
Phone(865) 421-2008
Before submitting, please confirm the following information is complete and accurate:
  • Contact information
Section I: Project Proposal Summery
HTML BlockProvide a summary description of the project:
Amount requested$100,000
Funding Term2 years
The project falls into which of the following categoriesMechatronics programs
How will this project serve students and enhance the quality and experience of education?

Collaborative robots, or Cobots, are revolutionizing the way we think about automation and the future of work. As industries continue to evolve and embrace this technology, the next generation must be prepared to work with it. One way to ensure that students are ready for this addition to Industry 4.0 and aware of the various opportunities to train for and work in the field of mechatronics is by integrating collaborative robots into their educational experiences.

Cobots are specifically designed to work alongside humans, making them ideal for teaching and learning. Unlike traditional industrial robots, which are isolated from human workers due to safety concerns, Cobots are built with safety features that enable them to interact with people. This makes Cobots perfect for use in classrooms and educational settings.

Cobots are transforming the education industry by providing students with the opportunity to learn about robotics firsthand. Through hands-on learning environments, students are introduced to automation and industrial applications, and can master Cobot programming within hours.

Pellissippi State’s Workforce and Community Development (WCD) division, in coordination with the Engineering Technologies department, proposes the implementation of Cobot training as a way to introduce students to mechatronics career pathways. The Cobot training will be complemented by an industry-recognized certification from the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3). Students will be trained on CIROS, the universal, 3D virtual commissioning software program for factory automation and robotics. Upon completion of the training, students will be eligible for the Universal Robotics Certification and the NC3 - Fundamentals of Robotics Certification. These certifications are recognized as Early Postsecondary Opportunities (EPSOs) for high school students, which are a graduation requirement for high school students in the college’s service area (Knox and Blount Counties, East TN). EPSOs can be translated into college credit via the prior learning assessment (PLA) process, and the project team will work with the Engineering Technology department to facilitate this process for students who complete the proposed camps and earn the Universal Robotics and/or NC3 certifications.

Provide a statement of need.

As educators, the goal is to equip students to pursue viable and lucrative careers. Automation and robotics play a crucial role in Industry 4.0, also known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Knowledge of and experience with robotics are essential for students who may be interested in a career in the field of mechatronics.

While Pellissippi State’s labs are currently equipped with traditional 6-axis robots, they do not provide students with experiences comparable to the latest technology being used in regional business/industry sites. Cobot systems are rapidly being implemented in regional manufacturing plants. As a result of this technological shift, it is imperative to acquire Cobots and begin exposing students to them, as well as training students to operate and program Cobots. Cobots will provide students with an introduction to the future of mechatronics, create a safer learning environment for students, and equip them with the skills necessary to pursue the training and skills needed to enter a career pathway in the field.

State current conditions and the desired change as a result of this project. One page or less.

Pellissippi State’s lab equipment and robotics training program is in need of updates in order to be consistent with the latest industry standards. It is important to offer learning opportunities that reflect the equipment used in the industry. New robotic systems are safer and teach students more relevant skills. In modern factories, Cobots (collaborative robots) work alongside humans and other machines to coordinate complex production processes. The Cobots are capable of retrieving, transporting, and assembling components with minimal human intervention, ensuring a smooth and efficient workflow. Unlike traditional robots that are often isolated in safety cages, Cobots are designed to work collaboratively and safely with humans.

Cobots are easier to set up, program, and operate compared to traditional robots. By providing hands-on experience with this equipment in the lab, students will gain relevant skills that will help them secure high-wage, high-tech jobs in the region. Integrating new Cobot systems into the traditional 6-axis equipment will attract students with various interests, increase student enrollment, and create a pipeline of students who are ready for the workforce and/or prepared to pursue even more advanced skills through higher education.

Additionally, Cobots allow the introduction of automation technology early through youth camps. These camps can offer industry-recognized certifications and fulfill local EPSO requirements for high school students. The user-friendly nature and ease of programming make this technology ideal for attracting young people to careers in CTE (Career and Technical Education) and increasing student enrollment in those programs.

Provide a schedule of project milestones (i.e. a progress or event schedule)

• Order equipment: fall 2024
• Certify instructors (3): spring 2025
• Develop youth and adult boot camps: spring 2025
• Promote PMP via CRT camp experiences and mechatronics career pathway opportunities: spring 2025 and ongoing thereafter
• Execute a youth camp schedule (four per year): summer 2025 and summer 2026
• Execute an adult boot camp schedule (three per year): spring 2025, summer 2025, spring 2026, fall 2026
• Evaluate Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) processes for Universal Robotics and NC3 certifications: fall 2024 – spring 2025
• Develop and deploy a plan for inclusion of CRT training into mechatronics degree pathways: fall 2025 and ongoing thereafter

How will this project be promoted and acknowledged?

The project team will actively promote the proposed camps and workforce training through existing institutional methods. The team will work closely with the college’s Marketing & Communications department to develop outreach materials and will promote the project via social media platforms, press releases, and a variety of presentations at high schools and in college classrooms, new student orientations, career fairs, etc. The DENSO NAF will be acknowledged for their support of the project in all communications. A formal grant/check presentation will be coordinated with DENSO NAF representatives, and the DENSO NAF logo and acknowledgement statement will be added to all project outreach and recruitment materials. Equipment will include tagging that acknowledges DENSO NAF as the funding source.

How will the success of this project be measured?

Success of the Promoting Mechatronics Pathways via Collaborative Robot Training (PMP via CRT) project will be measured through the tracking of initial and ongoing participation in the proposed camps and the number of participants who receive Universal Robotics and NC3 certification. Additionally, the number of students who transition from a PMP via CRT camp experience into a mechatronics career pathway training program will be an indicator of success.

• Number of students enrolled in camp experiences each year
• Number of students who complete a camp experience who earn the Universal Robotics certification
• Number of students who complete a camp experience who earn the NC3 certification
• Number of students who complete a camp experience who enroll in an academic/for-credit mechatronics training and education program pathway

Identify objective(s) and then how you intend to measure the result. (Note: Grant recipients are required to report on these objectives supported with data, on an annual basis to the conclusion to the grant term).

To measure the results of the proposed PMP via CRT project, the objectives below are established and will be measured through the College’s data collection processes. Data that will be collected includes: camp experience enrollment and completion records, testing center records, and other Institutional Effectiveness, Assessment, and Planning (IEAP) student/participant records.

• 40 students per year will enroll in a PMP via CRT camp experience
• 30 students per year will earn the Universal Robotics certification
• 30 students per year will earn the NC3 certification
• 10-20 students earn college credit via PLA and/or enter a mechatronics career and technical education training program

Through the proposed project, the College aspires to engage and motivate a student body to be part of skilled trades (mechatronics) teams. This will be accomplished through hands-on training for the application of skills needed to pursue careers in mechatronics. Exposure to Cobot training will provide students with relevant and current industry-related experiences, improve students’ abilities for problem solving and team building, and will serve to improve retention of students in the College’s mechatronics-related pathway training programs.

Section II: Financial Disclosure
1. List other project funding sources / major sponsors or contributors:
Source Amount Requested Amount Pledged Amount Received
2. Provide (or attach) a budget for the entire project if different from the request.
Budget Item Projected Cost
Total Project Budget$100,000
3. How would DENSO funds be allocated?
Item/Expense Amount
Universal Robots EDU Training Hardware Set (2) @ $41,000 each $82,000
Instructor Certification Training: National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3) – Fundamentals of Robotics (3) $8,000
Universal Robots’ Teacher Certification Training (3) $8,000
Promotional/outreach expenses (mailings, supplies, other outreach materials) $2,000
Total Requested Grant$100,000
4. Please enclose a copy of the school or department’s annual budget (preferred) or most recent annual report for the institution.4-Annual-Report-Most-Recent_Pellissippi-State.pdf
Section III: Institutional Information
Date Established1974
PresidentL. Anthony Wise, Jr.
Dean, College of BusinessMerve Kester-Thomas, Interim
Dean, College of EngineeringMargaret Ann Jeffries
Does the institution have a current or past relationship with a DENSO Company? If yes, please comment

Pellissippi State Community College and the PSCC Foundation have longstanding relationships with DENSO and the DENSO NAF. DENSO NAF has supported many of the College’s skilled trades training programs through the funding of equipment and student experiences designed to promote and enhance the pursuit of skilled trades career pathways. Over the years, DENSO representatives have worked closely with the College’s Engineering Technologies faculty and administrators to develop, expand, and enhance education and training programs that prepare students for employment in the advanced manufacturing environment.

If the institution has received DENSO funding in the past, please provide date, description and amounts

DENSO North American Foundation Funding:
2012-13 $50,000 Mechatronics Training Systems (MecLabs) and thermography equipment for Engineering Technology; STEM program awareness
2013-14 $50,000 AIS training equipment-- programmable controller training systems, a robotic arm training station with software and motor training equipment
2014-15 $50,000 Additional equipment for the college’s AIS-- including programmable controller training systems, robotics and motor training equipment
2015-16 $50,000 Expansion of AIS program to Blount County-- two robot arms for automation/manufacturing training
2017-18 $25,000 IndustryReady project—purchase of one instrumentation process control training system
2018-19 $48,125 IndustryReady 2.0 project—purchase of parts for six instrumentation process control training systems to provide Engineering Technology students with the opportunity to: 1) construct an instrumentation and process control training system (IPCTS) as part of their capstone course experience; and 2) train and practice workplace skills using equipment that provides hands-on experience closely aligned with industry conditions and standards

DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee Funding 1992-2014:
$122,820 Contributions from DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee in support of training, education, and scholarship programs at Pellissippi State

Does the University have DENSO-employed alumni? If yes, how many?In 2024, 84 Pellissippi State alumni have been identified as Denso employees.
Please Provide company/location if known.Denso Manufacturing, Tennessee
How did you hear of DENSO North America Foundation?The College and the Foundation have an ongoing relationship with the Denso NAF, and the Pellissippi State Community College Foundation received an invitation email to apply for funding.
The information presented in this application is accurate and complete. This application requires original signatures.
Another Project Explanation
  • I acknowledge if selected as a grant recipient, my institution has 5 business days to sign and return the Grant Agreement and provide electronic financial banking information to DENSO North America Foundation.
Proposal developed byAndy Polnicki
TitleDirector, PSCC MegaLab
Supported and Approved by:1. Aneisa Rolen, 2. Patty Weaver, and 3. L. Anthony Wise, Jr.
Title1. Executive Director, PSCC Foundation; 2. VP, External Affairs Pellissippi State; 3. President Pellissippi State