Mechatronics program could generate jobs in Newberry
by Natalie Netzel Staff Writer
NEWBERRY — The future mechatronics degree program at Piedmont Technical College is gaining momentum in this mechanical engineering field.
The Newberry campus held a business forum for the public last week to learn more about the program and also for businesses and industries to input their ideas into making the program better.
The Newberry County Career Center has mechatronics classes and if they want, students can transfer to Piedmont Tech in Newberry and earn an associate’s degree next year.
“We are very excited about starting a mechatronics program,” said Kevin Moore, mechatronics instructor at Piedmont Tech. “What is mechatronics? It takes traditional mechanics and combines software development. I tell my students they are students of factory automation.”
According to the Piedmont Tech program overview, mechatronics combines electronic, mechanical, robotics and information system technologies and provides graduates with skills needed for today’s automated manufacturing facilities.
The skills align with one or more industrial standards/certifications and instruction covers things such as hydraulics, pneumatics, robotics and automated controls, programmable controllers, process control and mechanical applications.
The degree program for Newberry’s campus also received $500,000 from the county to use for equipment. The campus is also in the process of redoing a part of the back portion of the building for a mechatronics lab next fall. This is part of the second phase of constructions for the Newberry campus which is a One Cent Sales Tax project.
The Greenwood and Laurens campuses have equipment already.
The program is very hands on as students work with a miniature version of what they might deal with on the job.
In fact, Moore encourages the industries in town to work with students and at least provide an opportunity for students to walk through the business and see what the real life equipment is like.
During the forum, industries and businesses were represented and Moore said, “We want to hear you hired graduates from Newberry.”
An advisory committee is needed to help out with the program. Business leaders and industries are encouraged to come onboard and provide ideas.
The school’s mechatronics degree program will encompass about 74 hours and there will also be a Mechatronics I certification with 38 hours.
Students who take the courses at the career center in Newberry can transfer and apply 13 hours credit to the degree.
Moore also pointed out that Clemson is in the process of developing an advanced degree for manufacturing which could provide mechatronics students an opportunity to go further if they choose.
Ron Pennise and Mark Pederson with Kraft in Newberry were at the forum and said mechatronics skills can definitely be used at Kraft. Electronic or mechanical degrees are a good thing for employees to have for Kraft.
Don Russell with Komatsu said Komatsu itself is building up its mechatronics program. For upper level assemblies, the program is important, Russell pointed out.
For more information on the Mechatronics Technology program, contact Moore at 864-941-8480.
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