$300,000 National Science Foundation Grant Will Support Roane State Mechatronics Program

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Roane State Community College

Roane State has been awarded a three-year grant to make sure the community college's mechatronics students have a well-rounded technical education to benefit themselves and their future employers.

The National Science Foundation's Advanced Technological Education grant is for $299,793. It runs through June 30, 2022.

"A great team got this project off the ground and will keep it moving forward to benefit students," said Shelley Esquivel, the community college's grants specialist who submitted the proposal to NSF.

The "Co-Req Mech" project will improve the preparation and increase the program completion of students in the mechatronics program to meet industry needs by integrating assignments and activities in general education courses that directly relate to the concepts taught in the mechatronics program.

Local employers in partnership with Roane State will provide oversight in curriculum development to combine math applications with mechatronics and evaluate the project’s success.

The new approach is expected to "significantly enhance mechatronics education and training at Roane State" and will be a model for other colleges and universities, according to a summary of the project.

"This project will likely increase the degree completion rate of first-generation students for whom math and general education courses often pose a major hurdle to degree attainment," the summary states.

While the project can be applied to other fields of study, Roane State opted to "address the mechatronics program first due to the high prevalence of industry demand for technically-skilled and business-oriented technicians who possess sufficient knowledge, skills and abilities such as critical thinking, applied knowledge, and complex problem-solving skills," it continues.

Expected broader impacts of the new initiative should include "a strengthening of the partnership between academia and industry in Roane State's service area, improving faculty instruction and expertise, and improving undergraduate mechatronics education in this rural area to better serve industry needs," according to the summary.

Roane State's mechatronics program prepares students for careers in advanced manufacturing. For more information, visit roanestate.edu/mechatronics or contact program director Gordon Williams at (865) 354-3000 ext. 4899 or williamsg1@roanestate.edu.

Remember, eligible adults can now attend Roane State tuition-free with the new Reconnect grant. Learn more at www.roanestate.edu/reconnect.