By Bob Fowler, Roane State staff writer
CLINTON—High school students in the dual enrollment mechatronics program at Roane State Community College received a final-semester financial boost, thanks to a grant from employees of Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC.
Those employees of CNS—the contractor that operates the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge—last year awarded a $10,000 grant to underwrite the Spring 2017 tuition for mechatronics students in Oak Ridge, Clinton, and Anderson County high schools. The grant was awarded through the CNS Community Investment Fund.
The Community Investment Fund provides thousands of dollars to local nonprofits. Y-12 employees work with the East Tennessee Foundation to award the grants through a competitive grant process.
In the mechatronics program, high school students take courses in maintaining and improving automated machines and robots used by many of today’s manufacturers, said Gordon Williams, director of Roane State’s mechatronics program.
Dual enrollment students who complete the training receive 12 semester hours of college credit and are eligible to take an exam for Siemens Mechatronic Systems Assistant certification. The industry certification may enable students to enter the workforce in jobs starting at $14 to $16 an hour immediately after graduation from high school.
“I like it,” mechatronics student Doug Stooksbury, a senior at Anderson County High School, said of his dual enrollment course. “I’m planning to base my future on this.”
“I like how it’s hands-on,” fellow senior Sinjin Smith said of the mechatronics course.
Roane State has received another $4,000 grant through the CNS Community Investment Fund to pay for second-year mechatronics students enrolled in the 2017-18 academic year, Williams said.
“I’m told it’s rare to get these grants for two years in a row,” Williams said. “We’re very grateful to CNS Y-12 for the grants.”
The state of Tennessee awards grants totaling $1,200 per dual enrollment student, and that covers most of the student’s tuition for three semesters, he said.
The CNS grant was expected to underwrite the spring semester tuition for the current 11 students enrolled in mechatronics, Williams said.
That’s important, he said, “because a lot of these guys don’t have the wherewithal to afford the dual enrollment fee.”
This press release was submitted by Owen Driskill.