Robots have become the new employees on the line. There is one way to stay ahead of technology, be the person who tells the robots and machines what to do. The field is called mechatronics.
Volunteer State Community College is expanding its mechatronics degree program to Gallatin starting this fall semester. Mechatronics is the blending of engineering fields, including mechanical, controls, electronic and computer engineering, to automate manufacturing, distribution and complex services through multiple industries.
Mechatronics professionals are the experts who repair, maintain and design state-of-the-art robotics and computer-aided equipment in today’s fastest growing industries. The Vol State program is taught for people with a high school degree or those with another college degree who want in-demand job skills.
“Students with a natural curiosity and who enjoy working with their hands will do well in mechatronics,” said Tim Dean, department chair of mechatronics. “Folks with mechanical aptitude do well, but it’s not a requirement. As we go through the process of training, students can acquire the mechanical aptitude.”
There is plenty of technical equipment used in the program to give students hands-on experience in automation, hydraulics, machine controls and robotics. Students in the Cookeville mechatronics program say it provides a great base for a new job or a promotion at a current workplace.
“Right now I’m a lab tech,” said student Joana Rhodifer, who works at Tutco Heating Solutions. “With this program I can do engineering jobs, like designing our heaters. Having a degree will increase my opportunity to get a better position at work.”
“I love the fact that this class is very hands-on,” said student Charles Little. “It turns into more of a conversation than a lecture in the classroom. It’s very animated and there is a lot of feedback.”
Job prospects for students with mechatronics degrees are much higher than average in Tennessee and the positions have a national median salary of $53,910, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Vol State program will feature work-based learning opportunities, designed to get students plugged into the many companies that need mechatronics professionals.
“Having the connection with industry gives students an idea of what will be expected when they get a job,” said Dean. It can also lead directly to jobs for students who fit in well with a company.
Vol State offers a two-year associate of applied science degree in mechatronics. Each step of the degree program also prepares students to test for Siemens certifications. Siemens certifications are internationally recognized mechatronics industry designations. They are important to employers.
Classes start in Gallatin this fall with a new mechatronics lab. However, the program will grow even more with a new facility as part of a renovation project to the Warf Math and Science building on the Gallatin campus. The Mechatronics-2-Jobs LEAP 2.0 Grant Project expands the mechatronics A.A.S. program targeting potential students in Macon, Robertson, Sumner, Trousdale, and Wilson counties. The grant helped purchase equipment for the new Mechatronics classes on the main campus in Gallatin and the Highland Crest campus in Springfield. Mechatronics classes are also available from Vol State at the Cookeville higher education campus.
For more information on a career in mechatronics visit volstate.edu/mechatronics. People interested in learning more can call 931-372-5546 or email [email protected]