Meet the ‘ro-bats’: ACC shows off new Tesla-sponsored robotics program


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Community College showed off the new robots being used to pipeline Austin students to Tesla on Friday.

ACC announced in August that it would be rolling out a new program, sponsored by Tesla, which would help students learn the skills needed to work at the massive tech company.

Jesus Borjon, in ACC/Tesla program
Jesus Borjon shows KXAN a programmable logic controller he’s been using during his time with ACC’s new program, which is sponsored by Tesla (KXAN/Grace Reader)

A ribbon-cutting on Friday signified the three classroom spaces that were overhauled and replaced with robots and equipment are ready for students to use. Though students like Jesus Borjon, who is already in the program working to be a maintenance technician for Tesla, have already had their hands on some of it.

“This is not an easy system, this is something that takes time and this program helps,” Borjon said as he showed KXAN a programmable logic controller he was working with.

“People that are in manufacturing right now without a degree, they learn some things, but they don’t know the technical part of it and this course can help close all those gaps,” Borjon said. “They start to learn how systems actually function.”

The partnership with ACC is something Chris Riley, the director of recruiting and workforce development for Tesla, described Friday as a sustainable pipeline.

“When we were looking for a home for our next factory, and our next manufacturing presence in the United States and we started having conversations here in Austin, the energy was palpable. You can see the partnerships being built,” Riley said.

In his remarks before the ribbon-cutting Friday, Mayor Steve Adler addressed the growth of tech companies in Austin and the lack of affordable housing in the city.

  • ACC and Tesla program
  • ACC and Tesla program
  • ACC and Tesla program
  • ACC and Tesla program
  • ACC and Tesla program

“The risk we run as a city is that we start losing our people, primarily because they can’t afford to live here,” he said. Adler said while the city is working on issues of additional housing being built and transportation, educational programs like this also help.

“The second way you deal with affordability, and perhaps the better way to deal with affordability, is you help people have more money to spend,” Adler said. “That’s about education, it’s about creating the right kinds of jobs, it’s creating those jobs where people can ladder up for themselves and their family and their neighborhoods and their community.”

That’s the goal for people like Borjon, who is hoping at the end of the program he’ll make the transition from an ACC facility to a Tesla one.

“My goal is to work for Tesla when this is all over, it would be nice to work for them after all this.”

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