Courtesy Steve Yingling, Western Nevada College
Mechatronics training in the Automation and Industrial Technology Center at Western Nevada College has gone international this week.
Nevada System of Higher Education’s new and unique partnership with higher education institutions in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico, began in earnest this week as a group of instructors visit WNC to participate in the accelerated Siemens Mechatronics certification program.
WNC welcomed eight instructors from four Tamaulipas institutions for a week of intensive systems approach training with Electronics and Industrial Technology Professor Emily Howarth.
“Here in Nevada, they can learn the technical aspects of the language in that specific field in English and learn the latest techniques so they can go back and work with their students on those items,” said WNC President Dr. Vincent Solis. “So, it’s a matter of training the trainers to a degree. These schools in Tamaulipas have a very robust study abroad program because they want their instructors to have access to the latest technologies, latest curriculum and the latest pedagogies, and they have looked to Western to provide training in the area of mechatronics.”
Added Professor Howarth, “We are thrilled to host these experienced instructors as they explore the language and mindset of a Level 1 Siemens mechatronics technician, internationally recognized as a balance of knowledge and skill that seeks to develop the strength of adaptable expertise.”
The accelerated workshop, called MechTech, is a customized session of WNC’s Level 1 Siemens Mechatronic Systems Certification Program.
“The International MechTech participants will prepare for certification by building on their solid foundation in electrical, mechanical, fluid power and control fundamentals, and I will guide them through developing the tools and mindset of Siemens mechatronics,” Howarth said. “The Level 1 certification opportunity will provide our visiting instructors with the student perspective of this internationally recognized program focused on progressively developing technicians for automated systems in industries such as manufacturing, logistics and distribution.”
WNC is the only school in the western United States partnered with Siemens to offer this special set of teaching and learning methods developed over 25 years through Siemens’ technical academies in Germany.
“Our accelerated MechTech programs are unique and targeted to the needs of our local employers, who want their techs to have the opportunity to develop their skillset and toolset, and quickly bring value back to production, maintenance, and operations,” explained Howarth.
WNC also is the first NSHE institution to provide training to Tamaulipas institutions.
“We’ve been looking forward to having our guests here and we look forward to meeting with them to enhance our opportunities,” Dr. Solis said. “I think Nevada as a system has tremendous potential to become a worldwide leader in different areas.”
The Nevada Board of Regents approved the international partnership with higher education systems in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico, last March. A delegation of educators from Mexico toured WNC’s mechatronics, machine tool and cybersecurity facilities last October, in addition to visits to College of Southern Nevada and Truckee Meadows Community College, paving the way for this system-wide partnership.
“This strategic partnership will create new educational opportunities, build greater cultural understanding, and academic collaborations with our Tamaulipas colleagues,” said NSHE Chancellor Thom Reilly.
Dr. Solis, College of Southern Nevada President Dr. Federico Zaragoza, Nevada State President Bart Patterson, NSHE Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges Nate Mackinnon and NSHE Chief of Staff Michael Flores played key roles in establishing this system-wide international partnership.
“Their emphasis is converting 100 percent of their curriculum to English in specific fields,” Dr. Solis said. “They have sought out those opportunities in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. Since I worked with them previously at my former institution, where we would do language training for them, when I got here to Nevada, we had a discussion with the system office and Dr. Zaragoza about creating a training partnership. Nevada, because of its unique system where you have community colleges, state colleges and universities, we could offer a one-stop shop for the folks for training purposes.”
The instructors trained daily at WNC through Thursday, with homework every night, and are planning to take the certification exam on Friday. For more than 2 weeks, they have been preparing with Professor Howarth for this accelerated program through an extensive online course of study reviewing the fundamental concepts and materials required to enter MechTech Level 1 at WNC.
“It is going to be a busy time for them,” said Dr. Solis, noting that plans have been made to take the group to Lake Tahoe on Friday before they return home.
One hundred percent of the tuition paid by the visiting instructors will be used to purchase new equipment for the Mechatronics lab to support automation, industrial technology and mechatronics.