The Mechatronics Education Center (MEC) and its staff have assisted Columbus High School in the development of the state’s first high school Mechatronics program. CHS electronics / mechatronics teacher Paul Leathers is offering four classes this year all emphasizing the fundamental technologies found in Mechatronics – mechanical, electrical, and computer systems.
The CHS Mechatronics program was enabled with support from the Mechatronics Education Center. Mr. Leathers has been involved with the MEC from the beginning. He is active on the MEC steering and technical advisory committees, and he has hosted several joint activities with MEC staff.
CHS electronics students first participated in a MEC awareness session in spring of 2005. Since that time, a number of CHS students have logged time in the MEC’s Manufacturing Learning Laboratory working in day-long workshops on electronics, pneumatics, and Mechatronics equipment.
The MEC partnership allowed Mr. Leathers to work with much of the Festo industrial training equipment for Mechatronics. He participated in a week-long professional development session in August of 2006 and spent time with the CCC faculty to articulate three college courses – DC electricity, AC Electricity, and fundamentals of pneumatics. He also plans on articulating applications of fluid power with the college.
With Perkins grant money, Mr. Leather was able to purchase four sets of pneumatics and electro-pneumatics equipment for his new lab setup in October. The CHS Mechatronics lab was featured in an open house which was held in November. Several businesses, students, parents, fellow teachers, and administrators had the opportunity to see the first high school Mechatronics lab in Nebraska.
Future plans include adding a six-foot industrial robot which is being donated to the high school from Columbus business Industrial Engineering Company, a contact Mr. Leathers made through his relationship with the MEC.
Last fall, the first 30 high school students enrolled in three of the CCC Industrial Technology course modules offered as a result of the MEC. CHS students accessed simulation software through their partnership with the MEC.