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Motlow State Community College
P.O. Box 8500
Lynchburg, TN 37352-8500
(931) 393-1500
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Motlow State Mechatronics Program receives prestigious ATMAE accreditation

Dec. 8, 2015

Five years of development, impressive outcomes, teamwork and diligence has paid off in a big way for the mechatronics program at Motlow State Community College. The program recently received a critical accreditation from the Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering (ATMAE), a nationally recognized accrediting agency for technology programs within community colleges and universities.

"Motlow, especially in the eastern part of the country, means mechatronics," Fred Rascoe, director of career readiness, proudly shared. "Everyone in the industry knows Motlow as a result of this exceptional program."

Mechatronics is a form of engineering that blends computer, electrical and mechanical technologies that together form a complex system used by many manufacturing, packaging and other modern operations.

The ATMAE accreditation not only brings prestige and recognition to Motlow, but also helps the program attract top level industry partners as well as excellent student candidates. The accreditation is the mark of excellence achieved by a technology program, and sets Motlow apart from other community colleges and technical schools.

Rascoe recently shared the intense review and scrutiny the program underwent when he went before the ATMAE Board of Directors as part of the accreditation process at the recent ATMAE national conference. He was questioned by all twelve directors in a roundtable format. "Fortunately that went exceptionally well due to all the hard work, documentation and preparation our team had done to earn the accreditation," added Rascoe. "With the ATMAE accreditation we have shown the world that we have achieved a standard of excellence and set a very high benchmark for the mechatronics program at Motlow.

"The demand for mechatronics graduates is growing. To the student, having an accredited program means they are likely to secure viable employment with exceptional income - to have a career, not just a job. We worked very hard to get this," exclaimed Rascoe, "and it's a big deal.

"We wanted to show that we have achieved excellence with our program, and to be ATMAE accredited proves that your program meets very high standards," Rascoe continued. "The accreditation shows that students are receiving the highest level of instruction in mechatronics technology. It also means that the program has shown continual improvement, and that we have an advisory board of directors comprised of industry representatives."

The mechatronics program at Motlow began with the Level One certification in 2010, with the goal to build it into a two-year AAS (Associate of Applied Science) program while working to achieve accreditation. The AAS program began in 2012, with the ATMAE accreditation being a priority. While the documentation and submission process took about one year, the accreditation process required three to four years of program experience and outcomes in order to apply.

In order to receive the ATMAE accreditation, it was critical to show that the program receives the support of the entire institution, providing students with important resources, and showing a link from mechatronics to Motlow's goals and mission.

Over a dozen Motlow employees worked in collaboration with the mechatronics staff to obtain the accreditation. Much documentation, research, success tracking, and data assembly was required, with assistance from supporting Motlow departments such as institutional research, human resources, library staff, and others.

Currently the mechatronics program has partnerships with Oakland High School in Murfreesboro and Warren County High School in McMinnville, with both schools offering dual enrollment credit and the Level One certification. The instructors at these schools possess the same qualifications as Motlow instructors.

"There is a requirement that industry be very involved with the mechatronics program," continued Rascoe. "Providing feedback as to what industry wants in order to continually meet their needs, as well as meeting the needs of the student, is a primary goal of our program."

The industry partnership list for the program is rapidly growing, including existing relationships with Bridgestone, Batesville Casket, and Jarden. Representatives from each of those companies are on the advisory board. Other company partners include Great Lakes Cheese, Nissan, Yorozu, Accu-Router and more, with additional industry frequently coming to the program requesting involvement.

"Most folks think of the automotive industry when it comes to mechatronics, but it is so much broader. Mechatronics is used in healthcare, road construction, cosmetics, the food and electrical industry, and much more," stated Rascoe.

The field of mechatronics is rapidly growing as more and more industries are looking to this evolving technology. The latest addition and next major focus of the mechatronics training at Motlow concerns additive manufacturing, also known as 3-D printing. Incorporating this technology training into Motlow's mechatronics program is further evidence of the program staying on the "cutting edge" of the mechatronics field.

The next step for Motlow's mechatronics program, maintaining the accreditation, will come from providing further evidence of continual improvement and maintaining the program's high standards.

For more information about the mechatronics program at Motlow, visit the mechatronics website at (www.mscc.edu/career_readiness) or contact Fred Rascoe at 931-668-7010, ext. 2123, or by email frascoe@mscc.edu.

The Motlow State Community College mechatronics program recently received accreditation from the Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering, a nationally recognized accrediting agency for technology programs within community colleges and universities. Motlow mechatronics personnel shown with the accreditation plaque are, from left, Dr. Khalid Tantawi, instructor; Ingrid Williams, secretary III; and Fred Rascoe, director of career readiness. Motlow State Community College photo.