• New Mechatronics Program to Begin This Fall at MHCC

    Posted: 02/24/2017

    A new program at Mt. Hood Community College that combines electrical and mechanical engineering, computer technologies and manufacturing maintenance will begin offering classes in the fall.

    The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) recently approved MHCC to offer an Associate of Applied Science in Mechatronics. In addition to the two-year degree (earnable over six terms), students in the program will earn a one-year maintenance tech certificate.

    Mechatronics refers to the repair, upkeep and maintenance of electrical and mechanical systems used by manufacturers and other industrial organizations to complete complicated tasks, like create a silicon microchip, build a car or process and package food. Mechatronics technicians work on equipment and automation processes to make them operate more quickly and efficiently.

    Program graduates can work in any industry that utilizes electrical and mechanical equipment to do business. Potential occupations include robotics and automation technicians, machinery maintenance workers, and electrical/electronic equipment assemblers. 

    “The field of mechatronics offers East County residents great opportunities to hold high-wage jobs and work in local industry that employs advanced automation technologies,” said MHCC engineering instructor Andrew Dryden.

    And it’s a rapidly growing and in-demand field, Dryden added. The creation of the Mechatronics program was partly driven by this demand; MHCC went to several of its local industry partners and asked them what employee skillsets they needed most.

    “They all came back with much the same answer, and it was a skills training that we weren’t offering at the time,” said Dryden.

    “Boeing, Microchip, On Semiconductor, Leatherman Tools, Teeny Foods and Cascade Corp have all been vital partners in creating this new program,” he added. “These organizations all have positions they want to fill – and they’re participating because they want to hire out of the program.”

    The fall cohort of the Mechatronics program will start with 16 students. Courses will be offered both in-class and online to allow flexibility for working students. During the first year, students will study mechanical drives, pneumatics, electrical circuits and motors, manufacturing processes and industrial safety. In the second year, they will learn about robotics, hydraulics, programmer logic controllers and similar subjects.

    “This is a very hands-on, applied curriculum,” said Dryden. “It’s really for people who like fixing things, who like to troubleshoot and solve problems.”

    MHCC has remodeled two classrooms for this program and purchased new equipment. The school will add two fulltime faculty members to teach and advise Mechatronics program students.

    Bureau of Labor Statistics Data for Electro-Mechanical Technicians (2015)

    Average hourly wage: $27.08
    Average annual wage: $56,320

    States with highest concentration of jobs/location quotients in this occupation: Oklahoma, Louisiana, Wyoming, Oregon, Massachusetts

    States with highest rate of pay in this occupation: Washington, Vermont, Georgia, New Mexico, New Jersey.