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Warren County High School Partners with Motlow College to Offer Mechatronics Classes at the High School

October 9th, 2012

First Mechatronics Class Held at Warren County High School - Instructor Paul Sand introduces the NIDA 130E electronics trainer to Warren County High School students in MECH 1100 Electrical Components, the first Mechatronics dual enrollment class held at Warren County High School. Students are, from left, Matthew Johnson, Brandon Goad, Jesse Cantrell, and Elijah McKelvey. In addition to high school credits, they will receive college credits from Motlow College when they successfully complete the class.

Warren County High School students interested in careers in today's high tech manufacturing environments have an opportunity that is not available at any other high school in the U.S., according to Tony Cassel, WCHS executive principal.

"Warren County is the first high school, to our knowledge, in the nation to offer a mechatronics program," Cassel said. "It gives students the opportunity to learn skills that will make them highly employable after graduation. It will also give them the opportunity to pursue additional training should they desire to do so through Motlow College."

Although WCHS students have been able to take dual enrollment courses in mechatronics at Motlow's McMinnville Center, they can now take them onsite at the high school, thanks to the Tennessee State Board of Education's recent approval of a Special Program of Study in Mechatronics. Dual enrollment courses are those in which students earn both high school and college credit. And, while that is good news, even better is what the courses can do for their futures, according to Paul Sand, who is teaching MECH 1100 Electrical Components this fall at WCHS.

"These classes will help students be better prepared for employment opportunities in Warren County and surrounding areas, as well as help fill a demand for skilled workers in automation manufacturing industries," Sand said. "Business and industry leaders in Warren County recognized this need for skilled workers and were instrumental in establishing the WCHS program."

The WCHS program includes four classes: Career Management Success, Computer Aided Drafting, and Mechatronics I and II. The mechatronic courses are based on the Siemens Mechatronics Systems approach to product manufacturing and includes mechanical, electronic, and signal processing components. "What the students will have when they finish these courses are careers, not just jobs," said Fred Rascoe, director of the Motlow program. "Companies in Warren County that directly use the principles taught in Mechatronics include Miniature Precision Components, Inc., Yorozu, Accu-Router, Jarden, and Bridgestone, and there are many more that indirectly use the principles and discipline of system troubleshooting and analysis."

Roscoe said companies located outside Warren County that seek employees with mechatronics skills are Nissan, General Motors and M-Tek. He and Sand agree that the number of manufacturers using mechatronics is increasing and will continue to do so, not just in Tennessee or the U.S., but around the world.

After completing the courses at WCHS and passing a certification exam, Sand said the senior students will receive level-one certification. They then can pursue level-two certification in conjunction with an associate degree at Motlow. A level-three certification is available at some universities.