By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools
Oakland High School hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate Nissan’s donation of a FANUC robot to an already state of the art mechatronics classroom.
Paul Anthony, Wayne Ellington, Mark Little and Nathan Carroll were on hand from Nissan along with Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron, County Commissioner Robert Peay, School Board members Coy Young, Tiffany Johnson, Sheila Bratton, Jim Estes and Tammy Sharp, and Director of Schools Bill Spurlock.
Oakland Principal John Marshall, several Oakland administrators, district-level administrators, industry partners and representatives from the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce were also at the ceremony.
“This is a very special day for us,” Marshall said, explaining Nissan’s donation “is a tremendous example of what happens with great partnerships working together.”
Indeed, it was an example of public education and industry working together for the benefit of students.
The agreement between Nissan and Rutherford County Schools was signed in 2019, which called for increased electricity to the classroom, elevated ceiling and a third-party evaluation upon completion of the installation.
Anthony, manager of digital acceleration and maintenance global reliability at the Nissan plant in Smyrna, referred to mechatronics at Oakland as “a very successful program.” In fact, Anthony singled out Oakland alumnus and current Nissan intern Orrin Sagman as a “poster child” for its success.
As many as a dozen other former mechatronics students from Oakland were also in attendance.
“What does this do for our students,” asked Leonard Ciletti, who has led the mechatronics program at Oakland since its inception. “When students leave here, they know how to program a robot. … It’s a great advantage and a great skillset these students leave here with.”
“For them to come back here shows the camaraderie we built here. They’re kind of their own fraternity and sorority here,” continued Ciletti, who added, “It can’t be done without our partners.”