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Motlow College-Bridgestone Partnership Brings New Opportunities to Oakland High School Students through Dual Enrollment Program in Mechatronics Technology

May 23, 2013

A Motlow College dual enrollment mechatronics program for Oakland High School students in Murfreesboro is not just a big deal, according to Bill Spurlock, Oakland principal. The program is "a REALLY big deal," he said during an informational meeting for students and their families at Bridgestone NAMEC in LaVergne, where classes will meet this fall.

The Oakland High School students pictured above are enrolled in the Motlow College mechatronics dual enrollment program and will begin classes this fall at Bridgestone NAMEC in LaVerge. Also pictured are representatives of Rutherford County industry, Bridgestone officials, and Motlow College faculty and administrators. In front from left are students Erica Preston, Jacob Hyten, Gustavo Mireles and Jessica Hatfield; and in row two from left are students Jonathan Green, Ammon Kaelberer, Clayton Easterling, William Bell, Jacob Hill, Jared Anderson, Buford Throneberry, Billy Hunter, Nathaniel Jeanette, Gabriel Reyes, John Groogan, Peter Yasso, Adam Fairchild, Sam Hawkins, Marshall Kimpel, Jacob Stolze, William Reese and Alan Poteet; Dr. MaryLou Apple, president of Motlow College; Kay Nixon, coordinator of career and technical education for Rutherford County Schools; and mechatronics instructor Khalid Tantawi. In back from left are mechatronics instructor Shane Buchanan; Larry Guffey of Yates Services; Mike Bailey of NISSAN; Bill Spurlock, Oakland principal; Kevin Smith of NISSAN; Dr. Walter Boles of Middle Tennessee State University; Don Odom, director of Rutherford County Schools; and Keith Hamilton, manager of Bridgestone NAMEC. Not pictured are students Alex Garay and Michael Henderson.
The program will make it possible for students to earn 16 hours of college credit and level 1 mechatronics certification within weeks of their high school graduation. Spurlock said students enrolled in the program were selected based on their ACT scores; military aptitude test (ASVAB) scores, with emphasis on their technical knowledge and high-order thinking skills; and from teacher surveys.

"I am very excited to be part of the first group in this mechatronics program," said Erica Preston, one of the 24 Oakland students chosen to attend mechatronics classes at Bridgestone. "Around the fifth grade, I knew I wanted to go into the field of engineering. However, I have always been a bit hesitant as to which type of engineering I should pursue. The very moment I heard about this dual enrollment opportunity, it was clear that it was for me."

Another student, Gustavo Mireles, said he had planned to pursue a career in mechanical engineering but changed his goal to mechatronics after hearing about the dual enrollment program in mechatronics, which is used in the manufacturing process and includes mechanical, electronic, and signal processing components.

"The program itself is amazing," Mireles said. "Having it set up at Bridgestone so we get hands-on teaching will be beneficial to all. This will be a class I look forward to taking."

The dual enrollment program is "a great opportunity," said mechatronics instructor Shane Buchanan. "When these students graduate from high school, they will have mechatronics certificates from Motlow and will be able to get good jobs."

Buchanan encouraged the students to expend the effort needed to succeed in the program and told them to expect to work hard. "You will earn this," he said, "but we will be right there with you all the way."

Many of the students enrolled in the program have been awarded scholarships from Rutherford County businesses, including Bridgestone, Quality Industries, NISSAN, O-Flex, Southeastern Technology, The Davis Groupe and Yates.