Roane State Community College received a workforce development grant last year, and the school will celebrate the LEAP grant on February 29, Leap Day, with mechatronics demonstrations, robotics teams from area high schools, and refreshments.
“Because Monday, February 29, is Leap Day, it’s the perfect time for Roane State Community College to celebrate its LEAP grant,” a press release said.
The $970,000 Labor Education Alignment Program, or LEAP, grant helped Roane State expand its one-year mechatronics program into a two-year degree and to offer dual credit mechatronics course for students at area high schools.
The Leap Day celebration is scheduled from 9-11 a.m. on Monday, February 29, at the college’s Higher Education and Workforce Training Facility in Clinton at 214 Nave Street. The public is invited.
Mechatronics students and instructors will demonstrate the high-tech training equipment used in Roane State’s program. Visitors will also be able to see robots built by the FIRST robotics teams from Clinton High School, Oak Ridge High School, and Roane County, which includes students from Roane County, Harriman, Midway, Rockwood, and Oliver Springs high schools, the press release said.
The nationwide FIRST Robotics Competition involves nearly 80,000 high school students. Teams design and program robots to compete in a head-to-head challenge. Regional competitions culminate with the FIRST Robotics Competition championship held in St. Louis, Missouri.
“The FIRST robotics teams build amazing robots,” said Gordon Williams, Roane State’s mechatronics director and a former FIRST robotics coach at Oak Ridge High School. “Plus the skills the students learn prepare them for fields such as mechatronics, engineering, and computer sciences.”
Mechatronics blends electronics, robotics, computer programming, and additional technical subjects. The courses train students to become technicians who operate and repair high-tech automated equipment.
“If you enjoy hands-on learning and high-tech equipment, mechatronics is a program you will want to explore,” Williams said.
To learn more about mechatronics at Roane State, visit roanestate.edu/mechatronics or contact Williams at (865) 354-3000 ext. 4899, [email protected].
LEAP is the workforce development program of Governor Bill Haslam’s Drive to 55 initiative. LEAP’s primary goal is to close “skills gaps” in work sectors across the state by aligning educational training and postsecondary credentials with the professional needs of industry partners throughout the state. LEAP is funded by the state of Tennessee and administered by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.
LEAP works with educators and employers to identify and close skills gaps that hinder the economic development of communities throughout the state. In January 2015, THEC awarded $10 million in state-funded LEAP grants to 12 local programs across the state. The community-led partnerships, comprised of industry partners, postsecondary institutions, K12 educators, and workforce development professionals, were tasked with aligning educational training and postsecondary credentials with the needs of regional industry employers.
The 2016 LEAP Report, released by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission in January, noted that, as of December 2015, 1,591 high school students across the state have enrolled in courses enhanced or funded by LEAP and 630 college students have enrolled in LEAP-supported programs. In total, 13,363 Tennessee students have engaged in LEAP-funded programming, including work-based learning experiences, career exploration programs, and other industry-focused learning activities.
As of December 2015, 44 students had enrolled in Roane State courses supported by the LEAP grant including 21 in the dual credit mechatronics program, 11 in the college’s two-year mechatronics program, and 12 in the college’s one-year mechatronics program.
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