Students who graduate with a degree in Mechatronics
from Surry Community College are in high demand due to a shortage of technically qualified
employees. Mechatronics is a combination of Mechanical, Electronics and Robotics engineering
processes working together to accomplish a specific task. Local businesses need employees
with technical skills in Mechatronics because manufacturing has become automated with the
use of robotics. Night classes are available. Hello, my name is Doug Slate, and I am the
Lead Instructor for Mechatronics Engineering as well as Industrial Systems Technology here
at Surry Community College. Manufacturing is a rapidly growing industry
with good paying jobs and full benefits for qualified employees. Mechatronics graduates
make around $48,000 per year on average. Some companies have indicated that they will
lose 50 percent of their skilled workers to retirement over the next 10 years. These factors
make the job outlook very good. Surry Community College has advanced training
equipment both here on the main campus and at the Yadkin Center. The Automation Room at the Dobson campus is
the only lab of its kind in North Carolina. The equipment was donated by a local industry,
modified, and assembled by instructors and students here at Surry Community. The Automation
Room is equipped with two Fanuc robots, and serves as an example of what is being used
in a typical advanced manufacturing plant. Students program and operate these robots
in the hands-on classes taught by instructors with many years of experience in the industry. Students also learn to use ultrasonic testers
and thermography tools used in predictive maintenance. During their studies, students also train
to obtain national industry certifications in their field. Surry students have the option
of earning a degree, diploma or certificate in Mechatronics. High school juniors and seniors can take Mechatronics
classes tuition-free through the Career & College Promise dual enrollment program. Mechatronics classes are offered on the Dobson
campus as well as at the Yadkin Center. Mechatronics students are high skilled, high-tech
trouble shooters who are getting jobs even before they graduate. Local companies who employ people with Mechatronics
skills include R.J. Reynolds, Ashley Furniture, AES, Pittsburg Glass Works, UNIFI, Weyerhaeuser,
Lydall, Phillips Van Heusen, WestRock, Sonoco, Austin Electrical Enclosures, United Plastics,
B&G Foods, Continental Structural Plastics, Insteel, and CK Technologies. I chose to go into Mechatronics because I
am looking for a career when I get out of school with high paying jobs in a high employment
rate. I think the things that excite me about Mechatronics
are getting to come and work on different things. You are always just going to be learning
about something new. No day is the same as the day before. It’s very hands on. I think it’s amazing the work that they
have done here, and the things this school has to provide for this program are extraordinary. I feel that the job market in Mechatronics
is booming. It’s only growing. I mean robotics and computers are only going to be, you know,
more and more. They are never going to go away, so they are going to need a lot more
people to do these jobs. This is my first semester at Surry Community
College, and being a woman in a male dominated field is very exciting. I think most people
would find it intimidating, but it’s a ground breaking journey. And more women should try
it. I chose Mechatronics as a field because manufacturing
jobs are on the rise and they always need more maintenance people in the field to help
keep the machines running at all times. The thing that really excites me about the
Mechatronics program is being able to work with robots because ever since I was a little
kid I have always through robots were really cool. The thing that fascinates me the most about
Mechatronics program is that I always thought that being able to program a robot would be
really hard, but actually, when you get in the program and learn everything about it,
it becomes very simple. I do recommend other students coming to Surry
Community College to study Mechatronics because it is just as cool as it sounds and it’s
a lot of fun. Before I come back to school, I was an automotive
technician for the past 10 years so I am used to working with my hands and using computers
to find issues that aren’t causing equipment to work right. The thing that excites me the most about Mechatronics
is the fact that it will continue on with what I already know, how to work with my hands,
how to troubleshoot electronics, and programming and installing equipment. We get to do a lot of hands-on work. They
teach us in depth about how sensors work with switches and just how the whole process can
be automated and run by just a few people. It’s a really good mix of lecture and hands-on.
The second year we are starting to get into more hands-on to see how you will actually
wire up a circuit and use it to do something that you actually program it to do. It’s
very interesting. Our instructors at Surry, they’ve got a
lot of experience in the industry. They’ve been out there hands-on with exactly what
they are teaching. They know first hand stuff we will see that is common to break and how
to fix it. Whenever we graduate from our Mechatronics
program, the money that we can make will be very good. Students also have the option of earning an
Industrial Systems certificate, which teaches individuals to safely service, maintain, repair,
or install equipment. The Industrial Systems classes are also included in the Mechatronics
degree, so the certificate can be used as a stepping stone to the degree. Some companies
require an Industrial Systems certificate for their maintenance technicians. The Industrial
Systems certificate is also offered to high school juniors and seniors tuition free through
the Career & College Promise dual enrollment program. For more information, go to www.surry.edu.
You can also follow the program on Facebook @surrymechatronics.