TechReadySC™, a collaboration of five Upstate South Carolina technical and community colleges and the South Carolina Technical College System office, has announced the launch of a new mechatronics curriculum for the fall 2008 semester. Greenville Technical College, Piedmont Technical College, Spartanburg Community College, Tri-County Technical College and York Technical College will offer this new technical degree program developed with a grant from AdvanceSC.
"AdvanceSC is proud to serve the needs of our community and recognizes this collaboration as a necessary approach for our state to produce a skilled and proficient work force," said Carol Burdette, AdvanceSC president. "Our board agrees that this grant will make an impact on local communities and better serve employers throughout the region."
AdvanceSC is funded with profits from Duke Energy’s Bulk Power Marketing program and awarded a $2.5 million grant to the colleges and the South Carolina Technical College System office in November 2006 to encourage a regional approach to workforce development training for the Upstate. From that grant, the Upstate Alliance for Technical Education was formed and was later re-named TechReadySC™.
“This project represents the critical phase of the TechReadySC™ initiative to create a ready pool of technicians with mechatronics and maintenance skills needed to work in advanced manufacturing,” said Cynthia Eason, vice president of corporate and economic development for Greenville Technical College and chair of the TechReadySC™ board of directors.
A widely accepted career in Europe since the nineties, mechatronics has only recently been recognized as a new training opportunity in Upstate South Carolina. Mechatronics refers to an interdisciplinary field involving control systems, electronic systems, computers and mechanical systems that integrates product design and automated manufacturing processes. Because industrial applications are becoming more and more complex, industries need technicians with skills that cross a variety of disciplines. Many existing job categories currently or will soon require mechatronics skills and problem solving abilities for professionals who design, implement, manufacture, service and repair a wide array of equipment.
“TechReadySC™ is an exciting initiative for Upstate South Carolina,” said Dr. Barry Russell, president of the South Carolina Technical College System. “The need for employees skilled in mechatronics is great and continues to grow. The collaboration of the five colleges and the System office will be instrumental in meeting this workforce need while also providing a blueprint for cooperation that can be used throughout the state.”
The mechatronics program will provide training for certificates and an associate degree. Mechatronics students will train on state-of-the art equipment from suppliers including Kuka, Festo and Siemens. The collaboration among the five colleges ensures students are trained on the same standardized curriculum and tested to meet industry standards. The training also includes apprenticeships and outreach activities designed to provide real-world experience for students. Professional development for individuals already working in related fields will also be available through continuing education courses at each of the five colleges. “I have worked in manufacturing maintenance for over 20 years,“ said John Davidson, who was recently hired to teach the mechatronics curriculum at Greenville Tech. “I have had both perspectives of maintaining and supervising. I see mechatronics as the next logical step needed for manufacturing companies to be competitive in the 21st century.” A recent employer survey in Greenville revealed that 711 jobs for mechatronics technicians will be available from 2010 to 2012. For additional information on TechReadySC™ and the new mechatronics curriculum, visit www.techreadysc.com.