OZARK, AL. (WTVY) - About a year and a half ago, Enterprise State Community College received $3.5 million in grant money to create and expand programs geared towards economic development for the Wiregrass.
Matt Rodgers, President of Enterprise State Community College, says, "Mechatronics is a very important program. We've enlisted our business and industry partners. We believe this is what they need and what they've requested. We feel like this is going to be a big draw for this area."
Mechatronics is one of the world's largest high-tech manufacturing fields that lean on knowledge in industrial maintenance.
Aubri Hanson, Instructor at Enterprise State Community College, says, "It's no longer enough for somebody to just have a single skill set...being that electrical, mechanical, or computers. We need to have all of it."
Mechatronics combines those three skill sets to meet industry demands.
"This program is going to be offered in a unique fashion that we're really excited about. So, there will not be set course times. Students will have flexible scheduling throughout the week where they can come and take their classes and labs at a time that's convenient for them," said Hanson.
Ozark mayor, Bob Bunting, can already see the potential impact.
"It's going to solve our entire un-skilled labor problem that we have all throughout the Wiregrass. All I hear every day is, 'Hey, we have job openings...but we have no skilled workforce,'" replied Bunting.
"Nationwide right now, there are half a million job openings right now for students who will come out of a program like this," said Hanson.
Hanson says, locally, there are around 4,000 job openings in the Wiregrass and the Florida Panhandle.
"We were meeting with the industry earlier this week as to how we can best meet their training needs. They're excited about the flexible schedule because their employees can come and take a class a week, only missing a couple of hours of work a week," said Hanson.
The program will be housed in the Henry E. Higham building, which is located on Alabama Aviation College's campus.
The mechatronics program will begin in the fall of 2019.