“It is critical to work with industry partners,” Vickers said.
Mechatronics instructor Dave Wallace has been with CCC for 29 years. He teaches most of the classes in the program and has seen the students who complete the program move on to manufacturing jobs.
“There’s a tremendous demand for people with skills. I think they (industry leaders) want to see someone whose completed something out of high school,” Wallace said. “Students who graduate from this program have marketable technical skills, which makes a big difference. It makes a big difference in the type of jobs that are available to them.”
Brian Griep, 50, is in his second year of the mechatronics program. Griep worked as a diesel mechanic for more than 20 years before going back to school. While he had some programming experience, he lacked the knowledge of robotics and factory programming that manufacturers need.
“This program will open me to a wide field where you can get experience in robotics, general maintenance and other skills that most companies want,” Griep said. “That’s the way of the future.”
According to Wallace, about half of the students in the mechatronics program are non-traditional such as Griep, while the other half are traditional students entering from high school. With a college education under their belts, they are poised for more success than a student who enters the workforce straight from high school.
“They’ll earn more from the get-go,” Wallace said.
The increase in the number of people employed in the manufacturing field fell far short of shocking Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Nathan Sondgeroth.
“I’m not surprised by these manufacturing numbers and frankly, it’s insanely exciting because so much of America’s resurgence is going to be directly tied to the resurgence of American manufacturing,” Sondgeroth said.