By Chris Gregory, Managing Editor

Hartsville’s Tennessee College of Applied Technology is teaming with Trousdale County High School to expand learning options for local students.

TCAT is providing equipment and other training materials for a Mechatronics program that is expected to begin at the high school in the next school year.

Mechatronics is defined as a branch of engineering that focuses on designing, manufacturing and maintaining products that have both mechanical and electronic components. Examples of industries that rely upon mechatronics include aerospace, appliance design and repair, farming, food processing, manufacturing and healthcare.

Funding for the expanded classes is coming from a $944,009 grant that TCAT received last year from Tennessee’s Labor Education Alignment Program (LEAP).

“We have almost $300,000 worth of equipment as part of our LEAP grant,” said TCAT Hartsville Director Mae Perry. “Part of that was to partner with the high school and offer training out there.

“We decided on Mechatronics because we need skilled labor, and that’s the biggest draw right now. We’ve got classroom space, and the class is supposed to start in August with the new school year… Anyone who looks to be an engineer would definitely benefit from this program.”

Perry said equipment for the school would include electrical, hydraulics and motor controls. The high school classroom will be a gateway into more advanced training available at the TCAT campus. The program will also be part of the dual-enrollment program in which TCHS students can earn college credit during their high school careers.

Director of Schools Clint Satterfield said he was excited about the expanded partnership between TCAT and Trousdale County Schools, and the opportunities it can create for local students.

“The objective today, is for all students to graduate college and career ready prepared for a high-skill, high-wage job,” Satterfield said. “The Mechatronics program, which we are excited to start, will equip select Trousdale County students with a Siemens Level 1 Certified Service Technician that pays approximately $22 per hour upon graduation.

“The certification can be transferred to TCAT, where students can advance their degree in Industrial Maintenance, or to Vol State, which is starting a Siemens Level 2 Certification program for the 2017-18 school year.

“Eventually our graduates will have the option to transfer to MTSU, which offers a Siemens Level 3 Certification that is equivalent to a mechatronics engineering degree. We have been informed that Nissan and Bridgestone can’t hire enough Siemens technicians. It is certainly a field that provides endless opportunities.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.