Motlow and Warren County High School have success with Dual Enrollment Mechatronics program

 The partnership between Warren County High School (WCHS) and Motlow State Community College is experiencing a high level of success through the Dual Enrollment Mechatronics program. Twenty-seven WCHS students graduated from the program for the 2017-18 academic year.  A groundbreaking ceremony was recently held to celebrate the building of a new Automation and Robotics Training Center adjacent to the Motlow McMinnville campus. Pictured above at the groundbreaking, from left,  are Tracy Risinger, WCHS CTE director; WCHS Mechatronics graduates Jorge Sifuentes, Kaleb Smith, Jorge Villegas and Juan Jantes; and Melissa Paz, Motlow Mechatronics instructor.

The partnership between Warren County High School (WCHS) and Motlow State Community College is experiencing a high level of success through the Dual Enrollment Mechatronics program. Twenty-seven WCHS students graduated from the program for the 2017-18 academic year.  A groundbreaking ceremony was recently held to celebrate the building of a new Automation and Robotics Training Center adjacent to the Motlow McMinnville campus. Pictured above at the groundbreaking, from left,  are Tracy Risinger, WCHS CTE director; WCHS Mechatronics graduates Jorge Sifuentes, Kaleb Smith, Jorge Villegas and Juan Jantes; and Melissa Paz, Motlow Mechatronics instructor.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that the Mechatronics program partnership between Motlow State Community College and Warren County High School (WCHS) is soaring to new heights. However, it could take one to accomplish the same as what several students have done through this up-and-coming joint venture that is preparing sophisticated technical workers for local industry, beginning at the high school level.

Consider the following accomplishment for the 2017-18 academic year - 27 WCHS students in the Dual Enrollment Mechatronics program each received four separate Robotic Industry Certifications from Yaskawa Motoman Robotics. The certifications they earned are: Yaskawa Safety Principles, Introduction to Robotics, FS100 Basic Operator, and FS100 Basic Programmer with material handling. These students are currently completing their Motlow Career Readiness Certification in order to take the Siemens Level 1 Technician exam in August.

The Business Roundtable Action Committee (BRAC) raised close to $200,000 to install a mechatronics lab at WCHS that opened in August 2012. The BRAC is a committee-program that allows businesses and leaders from around Warren County to come together and resolve problems, create solutions, and imagine possibilities for the workforce of the county. Yorozu Corporation of Tennessee has also donated two full-size robots to the lab for educational purposes.

Underscoring the success of the mechatronics/robotics program is the fact that Motlow recently received a $5.5 million state grant, the largest ever awarded to the College, to build an Automation and Robotics Training Center (ARTC) adjacent to its McMinnville campus. A groundbreaking ceremony was held June 14 to celebrate the new facility that should be operational by the fall of 2019.

“When the ARTC is completed in the summer of 2019, there will be about $10 million invested in Warren County in advanced skills training, mechatronics and robotics,” said Todd Herzog, chair of the BRAC for the last 20 years. “The center will be the first in Tennessee. Warren County and Motlow McMinnville are pacesetters in advanced skills training for the state and the southeast.”

According to Herzog, the mechatronics lab at WCHS was the first of its kind at a high school in the U.S. The lab and the Dual Enrollment agreement with Motlow followed the start-up of the Mechatronics program at Motlow McMinnville in January 2010.

Herzog began working with then Motlow President Dr. MaryLou Apple during 2007 regarding the need for advance skills training for BRAC manufacturing members. That led to Motlow pledging $150,000 in “seed” money in December of 2008, if Warren County could match that during 2009. That goal was exceeded, and an additional grant for $250,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission was obtained, leading to the start-up of the Mechatronics program at Motlow.