At a Glance
Mechatronics & Industrial Controls is a high demand, emerging career field in the manufacturing industry. Mechatronics technicians are becoming an essential part of industrial maintenance teams within the manufacturing industry because of their multidiscipline training that allows them to holistically troubleshoot complex manufacturing machines. As everyday industrial maintenance issues occur, these technicians provide solutions that allow production to continue with minimal loss. Overall employment of industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights is projected to grow 19 percent from 2021 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.
To meet the need for skilled workers in this industry, the Adult & Continuing Education Center at York County School of Technology offers a 900-hour Mechatronics & Industrial Controls program. This program of study is the convergence of the major disciplines of mechanics, electronics, informatics and automation into a technician level training.
The Mechatronics & Industrial Controls program curriculum includes a 90-hour Precision Machining module. Industry partners along with the program’s Occupational Advisory Committee (OAC) believe that precision machining is a critical skill for Industrial Maintenance Technicians and must be included in the program’s curriculum. However, the Adult & Continuing Education Center has struggled to find a part-time Precision Machining Instructor over the last few years. This is in large part due to the shortage of machinists throughout the manufacturing industry, coupled with the high wages and overtime opportunities precision machinists command in the workforce. Few machinists are able or willing to give up their careers and high wages in order to teach, especially on a part-time basis.
In June 2021, the Adult & Continuing Education Center administration and the instructor of the Mechatronics & Industrial Controls program met with the leadership of Elsner Engineering Works, Inc. to discuss a relationship between the school and the company. At the meeting, the Adult & Continuing Education Center team gave an overview of the Mechatronics & Industrial Controls program to the Elsner Engineering Team. The company had recently hired a graduate of the Adult & Continuing Education Center’s Mechatronics & Industrial Controls program, and company leaders were impressed with the knowledge and skills that the new employee possessed brought to the job.
During the meeting, the third generation president of the company, Bert Elsner, asked, “What does the Adult & Continuing Education Center’s Mechatronics program need and how can our company partner with you?” The Instructor of the Mechatronics program, Kevin Schussler, responded, “Our greatest need right now is an instructor for the precision machining portion of our Mechatronics and Industrial Controls program curriculum.” Without hesitation, Bert Elsner replied, “We can provide that for your students.” He also offered to pay for the Elsner experts’ instructional teaching time as well as any supplies and materials that would be required.
Elsner Engineering Works, Inc. assembled a team to provide the necessary curriculum to the program’s students for the 2021-22 school year. The Elsner Engineering Human Resources Recruiter coordinated the company’s team and served as the communication liaison between the Adult & Continuing Education Center and Elsner Engineering.
Representatives from the school and Elsner Engineering continued to meet over the summer, discussing the curriculum, instructional needs and required supplies and materials. They divided the precision machining curriculum into three main sections, each to be taught be a different subject matter expert form Elsner Engineering. The course would run for a total of 90 hours.
Each of the three instructors designed individual projects for students to complete and to demonstrate mastery in the particular skills needed in the automation and industrial maintenance field. Although they were a bit hesitant about being teaching in the program for the first time, the school’s instructional team provided them with the support necessary to become effective precision machining instructors for the program’s students.
The precision machining portion of the program will end in December 2021, with all of the Elsner Engineering Works, Inc. professionals/instructors finishing their time at the school.
Due to the partnership between the Adult & Continuing Education Center at York County School of Technology and Elsner Engineering Works, Inc., the Mechatronics & Industrial Controls program students will graduate with a highly sought after skill set that will provide them many opportunities for employment beyond graduation.
Both the Adult & Continuing Education Center at York County School of Technology and Elsner Engineering Works, Inc. also benefitted from the partnership. It allowed the school to focus on the students’ needs and provide a top-notch educational experience. Elsner Engineering Works, Inc. is experiencing better employee training and higher employee morale. It also receives brand recognition among the Mechatronics & Industrial Controls program students, providing a connection to future talent. As an organization, Elsner Engineering Works, Inc. enjoys serving their community and believes in the power of sharing their knowledge to help grow the skilled workforce in the York community.
The Adult & Continuing Education Center and Elsner Engineering Works, Inc. are committed to a long-term partnership.
Adult & Continuing Education Center at York County School of Technology https://educationthatpays.com/
Kirk D. Schlotzhauer, Director of Adult & Continuing Education
 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Industrial Machinery Mechanics, Machinery Maintenance Workers, and Millwrights, at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/industrial-machinery-mechanics-and-maintenance-workers-and-millwrights.htm (visited October 28, 2021).