$100k Grant to Enhance Mechatronics Program at State Technical Colleges

Article by: Georgiaree Godfrey | WSPA

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The South Carolina Technical College System is looking for ways to better serve its students and continue to supply a much needed workforce. The system is hoping to use a recently awarded grant to get the job done.

The grant provided by the SC Heritage Classic Foundation totals $100,000 and will be used to train faculty and remodel labs.

For the last ten years, thousands of students in the technical college system have been prepared to work the jobs of tomorrow. And with an extensive manufacturing footprint in the state, the technical colleges are constantly trying to keep up with demand.

The president of Spartanburg Community College, Henry Giles, explained the challenges the schools face in supplying that workforce.

"Right now we are approximately 3.3% unemployment a lot of people would say there's almost no unemployment at that point. But we're finding is that the companies are desperate to find both production employees and skilled maintenance technicians."

Finding those skilled employees wouldn't be a problem if the state's technical colleges were on the same page. The $100k grant will help unify the mechatronics program, which certifies students in the maintenance and operation of manufacturing machines.

"What we're trying to do as a state is standardize a curriculum throughout the 16 colleges, so companies that are hiring a person certified in a certain level of mechatronics they would know exactly the skillset that person should have."

The money will be used directly for the training of faculty so the necessary classes for certification can be taught. The program will qualify students to operate "Siemens" equipment, which is considered the gold standard for most European manufacturing companies.

The plan is for 16 faculty members, one from each technical college, to start training this summer.

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