Alexandria prepares students for the multidisciplinary world
Alexandria Technical and Community College, located in Alexandria Minn., is a technician-level school that teaches students how to develop, use and support fluid power systems. The two-year program falls under the school’s Center for Applied Mechatronics department and accepts up to 40 students a year. Mechatronics is the concept of combining mechanical, electrical and information technologies into a single skill set that goes beyond that of a traditional technician.
ATCC works closely with companies such as 3M, Eaton and Parker Hannifin to develop a curriculum that would best prepare students for active roles in the industry. Students learn the ins and outs of the hydraulic and pneumatic technologies that go into mobile hydraulic systems, automation and industrial robotics. All classes are focused on lab-based learning and hands-on experience with the technology in use today as well as those expected to be in use in the future.
“The wide range of things we did gave me a sense of things I liked doing in the industry and things I didn’t like,” Jon Meis, an inside salesman for the John Foster Company and former ATCC student, said. “When it came time for looking for a job, I had a good sense of direction where I wanted to go.”
Todd Zarbok, a mechatronics instructor at ATCC, goes beyond just educating the students that enroll in the mechatronics program, he personally visits high schools throughout Minnesota to try and raise interest in the field.
One of the instructor’s responsibilities is to recruit students into the mechatronics program. They do this by providing equipment and curriculum material so students can learn about the industry.
“I spend 20 days a year visiting high schools around the area,” Zarbok said. “We also enlist the help of manufacturers and distributors who want to hire our grads to visit schools in their area to encourage students to pursue training in this industry.
Alexandria Technical and Community College