Vancouver — Clark College has received a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to create a new Rural Access Mechatronics Program to help students in remote areas of Clark, Skamania and Klickitat counties to receive advanced-manufacturing technicians training.
Mechatronics integrates mechanical and electronic components in modern manufacturing and utility environments. Regional employers, including Boeing, Insitu and Vancouver Energy, have expressed a need for additional trained technicians.
It is a two-year grant. During the first year, faculty will develop a curriculum of seven hybrid classes that comprise a certificate of completion in mechatronics fundamentals. The hybrid model — taught partially in a traditional classroom and partially online — allows students in remote or rural locations to attend classes without commuting long distances.
The program will begin accepting its first students in fall 2017. Clark also is examining options for bringing lab facilities to students in remote areas of its service district, including a possible traveling lab on wheels.