Eight engineering students at Surry Community College landed advanced manufacturing jobs in April at WestRock’s Merchandising Displays Division in Winston-Salem, right before the college’s spring commencement services in May.

Five of the students are studying in college’s Mechatronics Engineering Technology program, while three others are training in the Electrical Systems Technology program. They will all be working as Maintenance Technicians.

Newly hired Electrical Systems students are Michael Cummings of Rhonda, Aaron Morse of Pilot Mountain, and Alfonso Popoca of Boonville, while recently hired Mechatronics students are Shay Wilson of Mount Airy, William Davis of Mount Airy, Kevin Hernandez of Yadkinville, Jesus Fuentes of Yadkinville, and Andrew Overby of Yadkinville.

“On behalf of Human Resources and the Maintenance Department, I would like to once again say thank you for allowing us to visit Surry and meet with your extraordinary students,” Veronica Hritz, Human Resources Administrator at WestRock said. “Our Maintenance Department was in need of highly trained, quality people, and you were able to step in and fill that need.”

WestRock (NYSE:WRK) partners with customers to provide differentiated paper and packaging solutions that help them win in the marketplace. The company has 45,000 team members who support customers around the world from more than 300 operating and business locations spanning North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

“We have worked very hard to prepare our students for advanced manufacturing jobs such as the opportunity at WestRock,” said Doug Slate, Mechatronics Lead Instructor at Surry. “All of our Mechatronics students eligible for our upcoming graduation already have, or have been offered jobs. I am so happy for them all.”

Surry Community College offers the Mechatronics and Electrical Systems programs at the Dobson campus, along with the Yadkin Center campus in Yadkinville. At each location, students can earn a two-year degree in Mechatronics. Electrical Systems is a new program offering for Yadkin Center, beginning Fall 2018, when students can start their Electrical studies in Yadkin County.

Slate explained that Mechatronics takes the electronics, mechanical and robotics part of advanced manufacturing and teaches students how they tie together.

“Mechatronics students are highly skilled, high-tech trouble shooters. They need to be self-motivated individuals who are inquisitive and want to know how things work and like to work with their hands,” Slate said. “Companies also want workers who understand predictive maintenance, which is a key focus of Mechatronics. The field of study pays well – workers skilled in Mechatronics start at an average of $25 per hour.”

Joey Boles is the Lead Instructor of the Electrical Systems program at Surry.

“Graduates of the Electrical Systems program at Surry Community College qualify to do most anything in the electrical field such as electrician, industrial plant maintenance technician, electrical engineering assistant, renewable energy consultant or solar panel installer,” Boles said. “Both Electrical and Photovoltaic tracks take two years of study to complete, and with some of the courses being the same, students can get a double major by taking five more classes.”

The Electrical track includes basic wiring for residential, commercial and industry and covers all aspects of the wiring phases. Someone with this degree can get into any electrical system field. These classes cover programmable logic control and prepares students to become an industrial electrician or work in any type of business. The Photovoltaic (PV) or solar track covers more on the renewable energy side with wind turbines and micro hydropower systems.

With a looming electrician shortage in the United States, students studying to be electricians have a huge opportunity to be successful. The need for electricians is expected to grow by 20 percent between 2012 and 2022, according to estimates by the United States Department of Labor, yet the number of young people obtaining electrical licenses is in drastic decline. Graduates of Surry Community College’s Electrical Systems program have a bright future with an abundant job market due to this demand. An electrician’s average pay is around $50,000 annually.

High school juniors and seniors can benefit by taking Mechatronics Engineering and Electrical Systems classes – tuition-free – through the Career & College Promise at the both the Dobson and Yadkin Center locations. Each program area offers a two-year degree, one-year diploma and certificate options.

If you have questions about the Mechatronics Engineering Technology program, contact Doug Slate at (336) 386-3302 or slated@surry.edu. If you are inquiring about the Electrical Systems program, contact Joey Boles at (336) 386-3267 or bolesjc@surry.edu.

Registration for the summer and fall semesters is going on now at Surry Community College. The deadline to register for summer classes is May 18 with summer classes beginning May 21. Fall registration is open until Aug. 3, and fall classes begin Aug. 15. For more information, go to the registration page or call (336) 386-3264.