Tell the Machines What to Do with Vol State Mechatronics in Cookeville
Employment analysts say that manufacturing jobs are at risk because of automation. 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 now offering a Mechatronics degree program at the Cookeville Higher Education Center (CHEC). 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 of Sparta, 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 of Cookeville. “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. Being Siemens certified gives Vol State graduates a real advantage in the field.
Classes are held in the extensive Mechatronics labs in Cookeville, with a wide variety of assembly line, robotics, hydraulics and machine tooling equipment. Students with prior experience in the field of Mechatronics through Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) certificate or diploma programs or on the job training, may be eligible for advanced credit in the Vol State Mechatronics degree program. The Gallatin campus is also starting a Mechatronics program this coming fall. For more information about a career in Mechatronics visit the web page at www.volstate.edu/mechatronics. People interested in learning more can call 1-931-372-5546 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Cookeville Mechatronics students Heather Roberts, Joseph Hurt and Charles Little (standing) study a hydraulics assembly during a Vol State class.
About Vol State
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 extends the college mission to the entire community. For more information, visit volstate.edu.
Tennessee’s Community Colleges
Tennessee’s Community Colleges is a system of 13 colleges offering a high-quality, affordable, convenient and personal education to prepare students to achieve their educational and career goals in two years or less. We offer associates degree and certificate programs, workforce development programs and transfer pathways to four-year degrees. For more information, please visit us online at tncommunitycolleges.org.