Tahoe Truckee Unified School District News andamp; Notes: Get a jump on the job market | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Truckee Unified School District News andamp; Notes: Get a jump on the job market

Sierra College Mechatronics students work with equipment designed to simulate ski lifts and assembly line operations.

Since when did launching ping-pong balls with a catapult seem like a good career move? The answer lies within Sierra College Tahoe-Truckees Mechantronics course curriculum that explores mechanics, pneumatics, hydraulics, electronics, electricity and how these disciplines interface under computer control in modern industry systems. The 10-credit, two-to-three semester program prepares students for careers in a myriad of areas including ski, gaming and hospitality industries and public utility companies. Drawing from the principles of Mechatronics taught in these courses, the hands-on catapult project is a class favorite.We had to do it all, recalls Michael Lufkin, 18, who recently graduated from the program. This includes making the parts, creating the schematic, soldering the electrical components. Then we took them outside and got to shoot the catapult with ping pong balls, bouncy balls, basketballs at a target that was about 10 to 20 feet away.Lufkin augmented his home schooling studies with the Mechatronics program available to adult students as well as teenaged students who can earn both high school and college credits. Last week Lufkin and his seven classmates, ranging in age from 17 to 54, received Mechatronics skills certificates, which are awarded after the completion of the three-course program.The fascinating class work helped to focus Lufkins vision of the future.After I finish high school, Ill be going to college and Id like to study robotics or mechanical engineering, he says. I like inventing things.According to Marshall Lewis, the Mechatronics coordinator, four of the recent skill certificate graduates plan to pursue associate of arts degrees in the two-year Mechatronics program offered at Sierra Colleges Rocklin campus. These people now have a solid foundation, which can readily transition into an apprenticeship program in specific industries, Lewis explains. They will definitely have a solid advantage competing for high-paying jobs. Mechatronics is great for people who have a thirst for knowledge, but adapt better to hands-on type learning. Its also the perfect entre into engineering.The Mechatronics program is just one example of Sierra Colleges partnership with the Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District, which allows high school students to fortify traditional high school coursework. For instance, a four-course Drafting Essentials Program that will be taught by Sierra College, but held at North Tahoe High School, is slated to begin in fall 2009.Its a great example of the districts many partnerships, says TTUSD trustee Bev Ducey. In these budget crunching times, we need to further develop these mutually beneficial partnerships that provide rich and diverse learning experiences for our students.

Sierra College, in partnership with Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, will hold two informational nights.Drafting Essentials Info Night, Monday, May 18, 7 to 8:30 p.m. at North Tahoe High School, 2945 Polaris Drive, Tahoe City.Mechatronics Info Night, Tuesday, May 19, 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the Sierra College Tahoe-Truckee Campus, Room 138, 1101 College Trail, Truckee.Need more info? Talk to your high school counselor. Or, call Marshall Lewis at (530) 277-6018 or Bev Ducey at (530) 412-1452.

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