Cal U students building a robot in the mecahtronics programs. Cal U students building a robot in the mecahtronics programs.

BENEDUM GRANT SUPPORTS MECHATRONICS TRAINING

Share | |

Posted on May 16, 2012

A grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation will support training for secondary and post-secondary teachers when California University of Pennsylvania hosts a Siemens Mechatronic Systems Instructor Certification Program this summer.

The $178,000 grant, delivered over two years, will allow secondary teachers from Eastern Westmoreland and Western Area Career and Technology Centers to take part in the certification program beginning with Level 1 Instructor Certification June 11-22 at Cal U.

The grant also supports participation by faculty from Westmoreland County Community College and California University.

Level 2 Instructor Certification will be a focus during the second year of the program.

Two instructors and an administrator from the Siemens Technical Academy in Berlin, Germany, will provide the specialized training and certification at Cal U.

A state-recognized vocational college in Germany, the Siemens Technical Academy collaborates with partner schools around the world to offer comprehensive industry skills certification in mechatronics, an emerging field that blends mechanical and electrical engineering technology with computer science.

The academy belongs to the education provider for Siemens AG, one of the world’s largest high-tech manufacturing corporations.

“Industry certifications have tremendous value, and there is a great demand for workers trained in mechatronics,” says program manager Michael Amrhein, director of the Office of Integration and Outreach for TEAMS (Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math and Science) at Cal U.

“Establishing a high-quality teaching corps in mechatronics should result in highly competent students who will complete their studies well-prepared to enter the workforce.”

‘Road Map to Mechatronics’

Cal U’s ultimate goal is to develop a “Road Map to Mechatronics” — a series of meaningful educational opportunities that allow students to move from secondary to post-secondary education, then on to jobs in science, technology, engineering and math, the subjects collectively known as STEM.

One key point on the “road map” is Cal U’s new bachelor’s degree program in mechatronics. Scheduled to begin in fall 2013, it will prepare students to work with complex systems that incorporate mechanical, electrical and software components, such as robots, automated guided vehicles or other “smart” electro-mechanical systems.

Following a “2+2+2” model, high school students could move seamlessly from a vocational-technical program in mechatronics to Cal U’s two-year associate degree program in robotics engineering technology and/or the four-year mechatronics program.

“Training and certifying instructors is an important step, and the Benedum Foundation grant is opening doors to this specialized training,” Amrhein said. “Through this program, we hope to give all learners multiple entry and exit points on their pathway to a career.”

About the Foundation

The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation has served West Virginia and Southwestern Pennsylvania since it was established in 1944 by Michael and Sarah Benedum. The foundation makes grants to support specific initiatives in the areas of education, economic development, health and human services, community development, and civic engagement.