Gateway Receives $285K NSF Grant to Teach Advanced Manufacturing Skills to Grant County Students

Gateway Community and Technical College has been awarded an Advanced Technology Education grant by the National Science Foundation that will enable the college to introduce mechatronics training to Grant County High School students.

The Mechatronics and Innovation for Rural Technicians grant provides $285,000 in the first year (2011-12) of a three-year grant that will total $672,350. The grant will be used to purchase a mechatronics trainer and to develop business and entrepreneurship curriculum modules for mechatronics and other technical programs. A mechatronics trainer is a piece of high-tech equipment that simulates the operations of a manufacturing facility.

Gateway will begin teaching mechatronics to Grant County High School students in January 2012. The class will be taught at Gateways Boone Campus with students traveling to the campus for the class once a week. Students will then complete lab assignments at the Grant Countys Career and Technology Center. Gateway will place the new grant-funded mechatronics trainer at center to enable lab instruction on site in Grant County.

The grant reinforces our efforts to provide the regional manufacturing community with highly skilled workers to overcome a current shortage of people with advanced manufacturing skills, said Ed Hughes, president of Gateway Community and Technical College. Were delighted to have this opportunity to partner with Grant County Schools to enable high school students to acquire the skills that will qualify them for high-wage, high-demand jobs.

This opportunity epitomizes authentic collaboration between business and education for true career readiness, said Ron Livingood, superintendent of Grant County Schools. Fourteen GCS students will be selected for the program, which includes a scholarship valued at almost $900 per student for tuition and books. GCS students who successfully complete the program will earn six hours of college credit and a mechatronics certificate. We are very pleased to have been chosen as a partner with Gateway for this state-of-the-art training program that will benefit our students, local industry, and the economic well-being of our region.

Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary field that combines mechanical and electrical engineering with computer science to manage and operate complex systems, said Dr. Anthony Clarke, dean of Workforce Solutions at Gateway. A mechatronics technician is responsible for keeping sophisticated equipment, such as robots, operating efficiently. Wages for mechatronics technicians range from $28,550 to over $40,000 a year.

This partnership is a big step forward for Gateway, the students who will enroll in the program, and regional manufacturers, Dr. Hughes said. These students have the opportunity to get a head start on college and take the first step on a career pathway that can lead them to a degree in engineering and a very rewarding career in a challenging high-tech environment.

For more information about mechatronics and other opportunities to gain skills in advanced manufacturing, contact Dr. Clarke at 859-442-1132, or Anthony.clarke@kctcs.edu. For information about the Grant County Career and Technology Center, contact John Sanders, Grant County High School associate principal, at (859) 824-9739.