Western Nevada College launched its new mechatronics program Friday, in partnership with international automation giant, Siemens.
Representatives from local manufacturing industries united at the Carson City campus to learn about how the technical training initiative supports the Northern Nevada workforce. The program kicks off Aug. 29, the beginning of fall semester.
The Governor’s Office of Science, Innovation and Technology covered the entire program with a $150,000 grant, including equipment. Director Brian Mitchell said the program’s impact will affect school and local industries by creating more jobs for future innovators, and improve the state’s reputation in education.
“We need people with quality strategy skills in order to develop economic strategy,” he said. “This is why we funded it; to grow workforce and employer’s demand. It’s important to increase the awareness of this program to the younger generation as it is a solid pathway to a career.”
The Siemens Mechatronics System Certification Program trains and specializes technology-driven students in a range of courses covering troubleshooting, electrical and mechanical components, and computer programming. Students are required to have experience in the field, as there are levels of positions for qualifications. However, high school students already studying the field can enroll in the program as a duel semester course.
On top of that, the Governor’s Office also funded course training with instructors as well. WNC’s Professor of Industrial Technology Emily Howarth spent two weeks in Tennessee to train in the program. According to Howarth, the campus has enough facilities to teach the program in groups, which 16 students are enrolled.
“I have so much energy for this,” she said. “I want to bring the workforce the talent and skills that we’re continuing to build.”
All the way from Siemens Technical Academy in Berlin, Germany, Administrator Lauren von Steuben spoke at the meeting on campus to show the educational benefits of the program. She said employers hire students after one semester of experience with Siemens and allows them to finish their degree as they work.
Majority of the program is spread out in the Midwest, northeast and southeastern side of the United States. Although southern Arizona has already pursued the program, Nevada is the farthest state — from western Mississippi — to launch it.
This is an opportunity for Siemens to expand, Steuben said.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with WNC,” she said. “They do a great job of keeping in touch with the local community. We hope to build a center of excellence in the western part of the country.”
WNC has more to look forward to in the coming weeks, Mitchell said. Next, the Governor’s Office is funding a modernized welding program as the demand in the state is high.
Georgia White, Director of WNC’s Career and Technical Training, said new programs will continue to boost confidence in employers searching — and will encourage them to hire locally.
“Carson City is a strong manufacturing area,” she said. “With companies like Tesla and Panasonic, the vibrancy of skills in manufacturing will grow in Northern Nevada.”
“It’s an honor and it’s exciting to start this,” said Chet Burton, WNC President. “We want to diversify our town by building desirable career paths. The economy is constantly evolving and employers are searching for quality minds. We’re going to be a part of that fulfillment.”