Golden LEAF donates $120K for mechatronics lab

Published 1:47 pm Monday, November 7, 2016

The changing nature of manufacturing requires the training for it to change as well.

Beaufort County Community College is in the process of building a new mechatronics lab, and a grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation brings the lab closer to completion.

BCCC’s goal is to create a pipeline of highly skilled workers by integrating mechatronics, a pairing of mechanical and electrical systems technology, into its engineering and welding programs to support industry needs in the coming years. The funds will go toward a hydraulics simulator, a servo robot training system and a mill training system.

The college will purchase equipment directly tied to training requested by North State Steel as it prepares to start up a second shift. Flanders Filters and Rob’s Hydraulics also have positions they need filled by candidates who are trained on their equipment.

The simulation lab will help fill much-needed positions. BCCC students will be taught on the new machines using nonferrous materials. The specific training that will accompany the machines is not available at other area colleges. Students will learn fabrication, robotic automation technology and touchscreen-computer design skills.

The new equipment will allow instructors to simulate reprogramming machines to operate using different materials. While students may learn how to engineer products and how to program equipment, employers seek candidates who can design parts, and use and program equipment at their facilities.

“Over the past few years, Flanders Filters Corporation has worked in collaboration with lead instructors at Beaufort County Community College to train workers in our industry field,” wrote John Urton, vice president of operations at Flanders Corp. “This will enable the college to produce skilled laborers with the job skills needed to start in our industry.”

The job skills are also in high demand in food packaging, paper products and pharmaceuticals industries.

The Golden LEAF Foundation funds projects that create and retain jobs in tobacco-dependent, rural communities. Much of the service area of BCCC experiences higher poverty rates and unemployment than the North Carolina average.

Beaufort County Community College provides accessible and affordable quality education, effective teaching, relevant training and lifelong learning opportunities to the people of Beaufort, Hyde, Tyrrell and Washington counties. Its machining and welding instructors are often able to place students with local companies even before they have finished their certification.