High-Tech Manufacturing Careers
Scholarships, low-to-no student loan debt, almost immediate job placement, a career with a cool name like mechatronics– Interested? Read on….
With a burgeoning automobile industry in Alabama, career opportunities abound for high-tech careers such as automated control systems, robotics, and industrial electronics.
What comes to mind when you think of manufacturing jobs? Repetitive manual tasks? Loud, dirty factories? Today’s manufacturing careers are a far cry from those of the past! When asked how today’s manufacturing differs from that of previous generations, Assistant Director George Booker says, “I worked in manufacturing for 41 years. It was a lot of manual labor. I worked in the rubber industry and everything was done manually.” But around twenty years ago, he says things began to change.
“We started seeing robotics and automation. No longer can you go into a manufacturing plant without an education. Even the entry level jobs are becoming somewhat high-tech. Process are computerized and you must have the ability to interact with the machinery.”
AUT & MECHATRONICS Degree
CARCAM Director Beverly Hilderbrand says that each partnering community college has some version of the AUT (Automotive Manufacturing Technology) degree. “It may be called mechatronics or manufacturing technology, but they all have basically the same courses that are fundamentals. Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC), robotics, electronics; those are the skills that the industry is looking for now in automated manufacturing.”
An Automotive Manufacturing Technology degree not only prepares students for employment with companies like Honda, Hyundai, International Diesel, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and or the 350 automotive suppliers, but it also translates easily to other high-tech fields in automated manufacturing, according to Mr. Booker. “We have expanded our outreach. Automated manufacturing is universal; robotics and PLC came through the automotive industry but it’s being used in all of the other industries out there. An AUT degree gives you a background in robotics and all the up-to-date technology that make you an asset for any type of manufacturing, from aerospace to lightweight materials, etc.” Ms. Hilderbrand adds, “We emphasize that our students are skilled technicians educated in problem solving and critical thinking skills,” invaluable assets in the manufacturing field overall.
In addition to preparing students for a career after the two year programs, students are alternatively “eligible to transfer to the university level and continue their education. We have articulation agreements with several of the universities in the state, and students are able to pursue engineering degrees if they choose to do so,” says Ms. Hilderbrand. Students can also take advantage of valuable internship opportunities, gaining work experience while in school.
CARCAM facilitates the AAMA’s (Alabama Automotive Manufacturing Association) Dr. Bernard J. Schroer Scholarship Program. Any eligible student in the program can apply for the award annually. Twelve scholarships are typically awarded, each valued at $1500 per year.
Do you think a career in manufacturing might be for you? More information on this scholarship and the CARCAM program can be found at www.carcam.org.
CARCAM (Consortium for Alabama Regional Center for Automobile Manufacturing) is comprised of a network of community colleges partnering together to produce a highly-skilled workforce for today’s manufacturing field. Educating students in today’s cutting-edge technology, they attract, enroll and help graduate students specifically for automotive manufacturing careers. To keep training relevant to the industry’s needs, CARCAM works directly with industry leaders such as Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes and others to give graduates an advantage.
Mavon Copeland is a successful CARCAM graduate who earned an Associate of Applied Science Degree from Wallace State Community College.
“I had always been interested in electronics and robotics and decided to change my major again,” said Copeland, “I kind of took off from there and enjoy everything about it to this day.”
Copeland took advantage of a co-op/internship opportunity while attending Wallace State. He attended classes on campus two days a week and drove to Smyrna, Tennessee for the weekends where he shadowed maintenance technicians at Nissan’s Battery Plant.
Copeland has continued to soar within his field and as a Maintenance Technologist at the Nissan Battery Plant. This facility produces the lithium ion batteries for Nissan’s “Green” technology vehicle, the Leaf.