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This article was originally published on 08/02/2011. Information and links within may no longer be applicable.

Virginia Western first in state to offer new mechatronic certification program

ROANOKE — Virginia Western Community College is now the first college in the state to offer certification as a Siemens Certified Mechatronic Systems Assistant. Beginning this fall, students will be able to begin the coursework that will teach them efficient operation of complex mechatronic systems and how to identify problems and troubleshoot.

In June, Virginia Western’s Dan Horine and James Smith took part in an intensive three-week instructor certification program at the Educational Institution at Siemens in Berlin, Germany. On Tuesday, Nakisha Evans, Siemens’ International Partnerships and Marketing Manager for the SMCP Program, attended a ceremony at Virginia Western to officially make it the first Certified Siemens Education Partner School in Virginia.

“Manufacturers throughout the Roanoke Valley and the region are relying more upon select skilled operators and automated processes than ever before,” said Horine, a faculty member in the School of Business, Engineering and Technology. “This kind of education in mechatronic systems is critical in order to develop a skilled workforce that keeps businesses thriving in the area.”

The goal of the new certification is to develop intelligent machine operators who can independently adapt to and be effective in new working environments. But the training encompasses a larger skill set beyond pure technical competence: social aspects, team working, networking skills and knowledge transfer skills also are important.

“When I go out to conduct workforce training with local companies and their staff, they are always looking for more than just technical know-how,” said Smith, who provides on-site training for businesses through Virginia Western’s Workforce Solutions. “They need workers who can communicate with each other and come up with solutions to problems that aren’t always found in a manual.”

The new certification program is a boon to local businesses that are seeking skilled workers. And the benefit of the new certificate to students is that they can show they possess industry-standard system skills that will make them even more competitive in today’s job market.

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