WILLIAMSON – Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College (SWVCTC) is now offering a program in Mechatronics.
Mechatronics instructor, Aaron St. Clair explains mechatronics as a field of study that unites principals of mechanics, electronics, computing and controls. “Pretty much anything mechanical,” St. Clair said.
“Mechatronics is a broad word. There are a lot of different terms that encompass this program. The goal is to bridge skill gaps between the four principals,” St. Clair added.
The program allows graduates to explore careers in a wide range of fields. These fields include automotive, aerospace, medical, xerography, consumer products, defense systems, manufacturing, and materials processing.
St. Clair mentioned the Kellogg plant in Pike County, Kentukcy as an example of where a mechatronic technician interested in working in manufacturing could find employment. Other examples would be the Toyota Plant in Putnam County in the automotive industry, or advanced surgical procedures in a hospital.
The program began spring of 2015 and currently offers a 2 year associate’s degree program as well as a one year certificate. The program is part of a nationwide grant that includes schools throughout the country.
“What is unique about this program is that a lot of people are sent here as apprentices by companies to gain experience before going on the job. It gives them the experience to get better jobs. This is definitely more hands on than most college coursework,” St. Clair said.
According to SWVCTC website, there are careers available for mechatronics technicians in all high tech fields. The website explains that students will use knowledge learned in the program to install, troubleshoot and maintain electromechanical equipment.
The job outlook for this field is promising. The Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS states that the average annual salary for a mechatronic technician was about $52,000 in 2012 and is expected to grow by one percent by 2020.
For high school students interested in pursuing a career in mechatronics after graduation, St. Clair suggests building a strong background in mathematics. “For a lot of students in this program, the stumbling block is math,” St. Clair said.
To learn more about this program or other programs available at SWVCTC, visit http://www.southernwv.edu.
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2279.)