By Jennifer Ferrero, APR
The MechaWA project, through the TechHire grant has infused Washington colleges with development of curriculum for in-demand jobs. The education is surrounding Mechatronics – a relatively new term in the world of aerospace and advanced manufacturing.
Yet, it is a high-growth, demand-driven area of workforce development in Washington.
Per the TechHire grant, “MechaWA will adapt and implement a modularized, competency-based career pathway to award Mechatronics Associate degrees and related short-term certificates to jump-start Aerospace careers of currently unemployed youth with barriers to employment.” The program targets unemployed youth ages 17-29.
Mechatronics jobs are sometimes found in facilities departments within manufacturing companies, as these departments may be responsible for maintaining and fixing equipment. Mechatronics can also include instrumentation control, robotics management, and even IT functions within manufacturing equipment. Since most equipment has some component of computerization, the ability to diagnose and repair the mechanical side of the equipment is just the beginning. In many cases, the computer system, and other interacting systems may play a part in treating an issue with a robot or machinery.
Because Mechatronics is a highly skilled role, several community and technical colleges in Washington have been involved with the TechHire grant that infused $3.8 million into the state to train the next generation of workers.
Five colleges are partnered with the Center of Excellence in the grant which will aid with program development and running new programming by Fall 2017:
- Everett Community College
- Renton Technical College
- Shoreline Community College
- North Seattle College
- and South Seattle College
Several college partners are involved with offering paid internships through the program (some are paid through company-offered stipends, some through a Center of Excellence grant):
- The Boeing Company
- Royell Manufacturing
- Ellison Technologies
- Senior Aerospace Absolute Manufacturing
- Aerospace Manufacturing Tech
Everett Community College was the first school in the grant consortium to launch in Washington and is now graduating students from Mechatronics. Several students have been offered internships and/or jobs.
Stay tuned for more information about the roll-out of Mechatronics programs in coming months. If you are a hiring manager and are seeking Mechatronics graduates in your area, you might check out our Recent Graduates System for students at a college near you.
Through the MechaWA grant, Washington is able to build programming for mechatronics, an in-demand skill-set within our state’s manufacturing sector that includes information technology, robotics, composites, facilities management and more. Learn more about this important grant.
Mechatronics Student Profile: Jaxon Kronberger
Jaxon Kronberger, an Everett Community College student, started in the Precision Machining program in spring 2016.
She is a highly motivated student, taking up to 20 credits at a time following a career as a radio frequency field engineer. Due to a layoff, she was able to take advantage of funding as a dislocated worker, and will have earned an ATA in Precision Machining, as well as in Mechatronics within 2017.
She is also a candidate for an internship with Boeing.
Regarding the Mechatronics program, she said, “As technology advances and we find better processes, Mechatronics is a part of the future. There is an intersection between disciplines within automation. Knowing hydraulics, pneumatics, programming, composites, mechanics, and electronics – will be key as more things become automated.”
Jaxon has high hopes for the future as well. She is hoping to explore the limits of Mechatronics and may even look forward to teaching at Everett Community College down the road. She added, “The next five years could be very exciting!”