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TCC and Chesapeake Public Schools launch dual-enrollment program in mechatronics

Tidewater Community College and Chesapeake Public Schools have announced a new partnership that enables students to launch from high school into an in-demand career in advanced manufacturing.

With the development of the TCC/CPS Dual Enrollment: Mechatronics program, students prepare for work on mechatronic systems. These are typically composed of traditional mechanical and electrical components, but are referred to as “smart” devices or systems because of the incorporation of sensors, actuators, robotics, instrumentation, process control and automation.

TCC Provost Lisa Rhine presented the program Sept. 29 during the Chesapeake School Board meeting as part of the superintendent’s report.
“Working with industry to prepare qualified employees for in-demand jobs in manufacturing is one of our top priorities,” said TCC President Edna V. Baehre-Kolovani. “This program is squarely on target with our workforce development mission. We are appreciative of the efforts of business leaders who support our work to increase career readiness for high school students, and increase access for employers to qualified individuals for entry and mid-level positions.”
The first cohort of students will begin the program in fall 2015. The program is best suited for students with an interest in electronics who enjoy working with their hands to build electrical, mechanical and robotic systems.

What is mechatronics?

Anita James, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said, “We consider the Mechatronics high-school-to-college pathway to be an excellent opportunity to provide greater variety in the dual-enrollment experiences offered to our high school students.”
Interested eighth-graders and their parents are encouraged to select the TCC/CPS Dual Enrollment: Mechatronics program when scheduling classes for high school, or meet with a high school counselor to select the program.

From there, enrolled students will be on a special career pathway that includes taking selected classes in their high schools for the first two years, working toward a standard high school diploma and a recognized industry credential in electronics.
During the final two years of high school, some classes will be held on TCC’s Chesapeake Campus, where students will get hands-on training in the Precision Machining Lab and earn a Career Studies Certificate in Mechatronics.
“Students who complete this certificate are well prepared for work in industrial environments and ready to enter the workforce that has a need for qualified technicians,” said Thomas Stout, TCC’s program head for mechatronics. The median salary for mechatronics technicians is about $50,000.

After graduating from high school, students can continue their education at TCC and earn the Associate of Applied Science in Mechatronics in just one year.
A dual-enrollment career pathway in mechatronics will begin at the Virginia Beach Campus in fall 2015 in cooperation with the Virginia Beach Public Schools.