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ACC’s MechTech Institute Partners With ABSS Educators

ABSS principals and counselors learned about careers in Mechatronics from ACC Department Head Dr. Mohamad Haj-Mohamadi during a recent MechTech open house in the College’s Mechatronics lab.

ABSS principals and counselors learned about careers in Mechatronics from ACC Department Head Dr. Mohamad Haj-Mohamadi during a recent MechTech open house in the College’s Mechatronics lab.

Teacher, principals, and school counselors came away impressed by demonstrations within the Mechatronics Engineering Technology lab at Alamance Community College during a recent MechTech Institute welcome meeting whose purpose is to convince the Alamance-Burlington School educators to sign up to participate in the two-year partnership. Consequently, 11 ABSS instructors have committed to the program so far.

The event was sponsored by the ACC Foundation, part of a $200,000 National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education grant to develop a Mechatronics Technology Institute in partnership with Alamance-Burlington Schools System (ABSS) and North Carolina advanced manufacturing partners to prepare a qualified mechatronics trained workforce. 

The MechTech Institute—expected to impact about 720 local high school students and 45 teachers and counselors–will contribute to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and teacher development. It will help address the need for stable, well-paid employment in Alamance County and surrounding regions by building a sustainable pipeline of qualified students from high school through college into the mechatronics workforce. It will also serve as an integral piece of ACC’s Mechatronics Engineering Technology program involving curriculum development, capital expansion, and student recruitment and support.

The MechTech Institute’s project goals will be achieved by providing professional development to ABSS high school STEM instructors and counselors through:

  • One-day workshops during the school year and a week-long summer workshop, each providing participants with mechatronics materials and equipping them to integrate mechatronics-based lesson plans, project kits and hands-on activities into their STEM classes
  • Exposure to the mechatronics workplace through industry tours, speakers, and makers-guild events
  • An online resource community providing participants with ongoing support

The MechTech Institute seeks to adapt the industry-exposure component—such as guided workplace tours and demonstrations and face-to-face interactions with members of the current workforce—to specific businesses and student populations in order to maximize increased student awareness and interest in mechatronics education and career paths.

An experienced evaluator from UNC-Greensboro SERVE Center will determine the impact and effectiveness of the project. Information and products will be freely disseminated to educational institutions, training providers, and economic and workforce development stakeholders to benefit the advanced technological education community in the country.

Project Principal Investigators (PIs) at Alamance Community College are Dr. Mohamad Haj-Mohamadi, Department Head of Mechatronics Engineering Technology, and physics instructor Paul Carr. Carolyn Rhode, Vice President of Institutional Advancement, will provide administrative support for the project.