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Mechatronics highlighted for LEAP 2.0 Day at Vol State

Staff Reports • Jan 3, 2018 at 8:52 PM

Mechatronics was the highlight of a Volunteer State Community College event recently to celebrate the Tennessee Labor Education alignment program. 

Mechatronics is the blending of engineering fields, including mechanical, controls, electronic and computer engineering, to automate manufacturing, distribution and complex services through multiple industries. LEAP is a statewide, comprehensive structure that enables students in Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology and community colleges to participate in technical training developed with input from area employers. 

The Mechatronics-2-Jobs LEAP 2.0 grant project expands the Vol State mechatronics associate of applied science degree program to target potential students in Macon, Robertson, Sumner, Trousdale and Wilson counties. The grant helped buy equipment for new mechatronics classes in Gallatin and eventually the Highland Crest campus in Springfield.

A panel discussion at the event, led by Vol State dean of math and science Tom Ekman, included Tim Altizer, vice president of operations at Aladdin Temp-Rite; Jimmy Johnston, president and CEO, of Forward Sumner; Curt Johnston, director of education and workforce alignment with the Tennessee Higher Education Commission; and John Watz, director of the North Tennessee Workforce Board, Inc.

“Mechatronics is a highly valuable career. The pay is great and the benefits are great,” said Altizer. “Without these local programs training people, we’re searching the country to find qualified employees.”

“The LEAP 2.0 funding creates a direct training pipeline of students for advanced manufacturing needs,” said Johnston.

Vol State mechatronics students got to talk with lawmakers and industry representatives at the event. Thirty-three students enrolled in mechatronics for the fall semester in Gallatin. Night classes were added due to the student demand. A work-based learning program will begin in the spring with area businesses. 

More than 20 regional industries are represented on the mechatronics technology advisory committees in Gallatin and Cookeville. 

For more information on a career in Mechatronics visit volstate.edu/mechatronics.

Volunteer State Community College has more than 90 programs of study and offers two-year degrees, certificates and paths to university transfer. Continuing education and workforce development extend the college mission to the entire community. For more information, visit volstate.edu.

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