NEWBERRY — The latest buzzword in manufacturing is mechatronics. A widely accepted career in Europe since the 1990s, mechatronics has only recently been recognized as a new training opportunity in Upstate South Carolina. But the nature of the field is still confusing to many people.
“Mechatronics is a new approach in the United States,” said Kevin Moore, mechatronics technology coordinator. “It’s a systems approach where you look at the whole system rather than the individual component.”
The name “Mechatronics” is a combination of the words “mechanical” and “electronics.” As the name implies, this subject area is a vital field for manufacturing because it covers a wide array of specialties. Professionals in the mechatronics field work with hydraulics and pneumatics, robotics and automated controls, programmable controllers, process control and mechanical applications. These professionals design, implement, manufacture, service and repair a wide array of equipment.
“In manufacturing, time lost is money lost. If a part breaks down, production stops and the company loses money,” Moore said. “And it can be really expensive to replace a piece of equipment when one piece is not working. So, companies look to technicians who can quickly repair the broken part.
“However, companies don’t want to keep a technician on staff who can only repair robotics and one who can only repair electrical systems and one who can only repair mechanical systems and so on,” he said. “So companies are looking for that one well-trained person who can do it all.”
The technician trained in mechatronics has the skills and the know-how to repair any of those systems. And because they are knowledgeable in so many areas, the mechatronics technician is in high demand in a large variety of industries – aerospace, robotics, automotive production, manufacturing and even business. As manufacturing continues to become even more advanced, the demand for trained mechatronics technicians will continue to grow.
“Piedmont Tech is one of the few colleges in South Carolina that offers an associate degree in mechatronics. In two short years, you can earn a degree that will open the door to this high- demand career,” Moore said. “We offer classroom instruction and some of the best hands-on training you can find.”
Classes are offered at both the Newberry County Campus and the Lex Walters Campus in Greenwood. For more information on the mechatronics technology program, go to www.ptc.edu/mechatronics.