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Nissan donates robots to Alcorn State University Technology Program

Alcorn State, Miss. (March 21) - Students in the Advanced Technologies program at Alcorn State University will have two new classmates this summer as the school receives a pair of high-tech robots from Nissan’s Canton, Miss. vehicle assembly plant. “Alcorn has a rich history and is leading the way to a brighter future for its students through its Advanced Technologies program,” said Dan Bednarzyk, vice president of manufacturing for Nissan’s Canton vehicle assembly plant. “These robots will be put to good educational use as the faculty trains the engineers of tomorrow. This contribution is one more way that Nissan is meeting its commitment to diversity, education and serving our community.”

Alcorn, a historically black university in Lorman, Miss., offers a degree program in robotics and automation technology. Alcorn students will learn how to program and operate the robots as they prepare for careers in manufacturing and technology industries. The idea to contribute the robots originated from Nissan Canton employee and current Alcorn student Jason Derryberry, who joined Nissan in 2004 as a maintenance technician and is now a maintenance supervisor. He will finish his degree in applied science at Alcorn.

“I got tremendous encouragement and support from the Canton management team as we worked with Alcorn on this project,” Derryberry said. “I'm excited because I work with similar technology every day, so I know what these robots will mean for the Alcorn program and my fellow students.”

Alcorn leaders and faculty traveled from Lorman to Canton on March 21 to receive the two robots, which stand more than five feet tall and weigh approximately 815 pounds each. The instructors also learned how to program and operate the robots, which Nissan previously used to arc weld auto bodies. The robots can be programmed and fitted with attachments to perform welding and other tasks in the Alcorn robotics lab. Derryberry plans to stay involved by helping students install the robots.

“These two robots will give our students firsthand experience with the kind of technology used in Canton and other modern manufacturing facilities,” says Dr. Kwabena Agyepong, chair of the Department of Advanced Technologies. “With this gift, Nissan is strengthening its partnership with Alcorn. The Department of Advanced Technologies thanks Nissan for supporting Alcorn’s mission of providing world-class curricula and training designed to prepare superior practitioners, managers and leaders in the field of Robotics and Automation Technology.”

The Canton vehicle assembly plant is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2013 and employs more than 5,000 people with an annual payroll in excess of $200 million. Nissan has announced plans to move assembly of the next-generation Nissan Murano to Canton from Japan beginning in 2014. Canton employees currently build the award-winning Altima, Armada full-size SUV, Xterra mid-size SUV, Titan and Frontier pickup trucks, and NV full-size commercial cargo and passenger vans. Canton will also begin building the all-new Sentra compact sedan in 2013.