Stanly Community College makes way for mechatronics

Published 1:49 pm Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Today’s workforce looks dramatically different than it did just 10 years ago as more companies transition to automation and robotics.

This is one reason Stanly Community College recently developed the Mechatronics Engineering Technology program.

Mechatronics is the integration of mechanical, electronic and electrical engineering systems, including robotics and advanced automation systems. Technicians with a degree from the program are trained to design, build, test, install, program, troubleshoot and repair systems involving high-tech, computer-controlled machinery.

Gary Hatley, program director for the new Mechatronics program and the similar Electronics Engineering Technology degree, says companies are searching for technicians and engineers with training in mechatronics to fill this rapidly growing sector resulting from more automation.

Mechatronics Engineering Technology program director Gary Hatley shows Stanly Early College student William Aldridge what the new program has to offer. (Contributed)

Students who complete the two-year program are also eligible to transfer to a four-year engineering technology degree at many of the state’s universities.

“SCC offers this state-of-the-art instruction that is so valuable to employers not only in Stanly County but across the country,” says Hatley. “Not only are we training students for careers of today and tomorrow, but these jobs also come with high, entry-level salaries.”

Hatley says mechatronics appeals to students who enjoy hands-on work and problem solving.

“Students who complete the degree should find plenty of high-paying employment opportunities,” he adds. “It is a great option for students who are also undecided about a four-year degree. This provides graduates with choices of entering the workforce after completing the two-year degree, continuing to complete their four-year Engineering Technology degree, or perhaps the best of both worlds – entering the workforce with their two-year degree while completing the remaining two years of the bachelor’s degree online or on evenings/weekends. Some employers will even help pay for tuition and books.”

SCC’s Career and College Promise pathway for the Electronics Engineering Technology program, includes six courses that also count toward a mechatronics certificate that students can take in high school.

A new CCP pathway for Mechatronics Engineering Technology is expected to soon offer students additional courses. Students can earn free college credits in high school – giving students a lighter load once they graduate from high school and go on to college. They may also be able to take extra courses and work toward a double major in another area, such as Electronics Engineering Technology, Computer Engineering Technology or Networking.

Students can earn a certificate in mechatronics within one year, but students are encouraged to complete the two-year associate degree because it provides more valuable, in-depth training desired by employers.

“Completing the two-year degree opens the door to several pathways, whether entering work at that time or transferring to a four-year Engineering Technology degree,” says Hatley. “This provides flexibility and a safety net at the two-year level that is not possible when beginning studies exclusively at a four-year institution.”