Motlow State Community College will receive a $250,000 state grant to help high school students earn two-year degrees in the high-demand field of mechatronics.
The two-year grant will support Motlow’s Middle College Mechatronics (MCM) program at Warren County High School (WCHS) in McMinnville and Oakland High School in Murfreesboro.
Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Flora W. Tydings recently announced that Motlow, Chattanooga State, Cleveland State and Roane State community colleges would receive equal funding from a $1 million appropriation in the Fiscal Year 2018-19 State Budget proposed by Gov. Bill Haslam and approved by the Tennessee General Assembly.
“The Motlow Middle College Mechatronics program aligns directly with Rutherford County Schools’ mission, which is to empower today’s students to grasp tomorrow’s opportunities,” said John Marshall, Oakland High School principal.
“Oakland High School has a strong partnership with Motlow that will continue to expand the opportunities we are providing our students with increased academic rigor and career skills needed to broaden their horizons and provide a skilled workforce in Rutherford County.”
Because high school students don’t qualify for college scholarship assistance like Tennessee Promise and Hope Scholarships until they earn their high school diplomas, most of the grant will go toward the cost of tuition, fees, textbooks and materials for students who enroll in Motlow’s Middle College Mechatronics program.
Middle College programs are partnerships between community colleges and the high schools in their service areas, giving high school students opportunities to earn their associates degrees at the same time they graduate from high school or soon after.
The unique program combines the last two years of high school with the first two years of college and provides students with intensive counseling, small classes, an interdisciplinary curriculum and career guidance. The Middle College path will also give students opportunities to earn industry-training certifications as part of the degree programs. College credits earned by students in Middle College are attributed to their college career after they graduate high school.
“Students graduating from a Middle College Mechatronics program have a college degree and the opportunity for a challenging career position – at the age of 18,” said Dr. Robert Denn, the associate vice chancellor for K-12 initiatives for The College System of Tennessee.
“Expansion of Middle College Mechatronics programs will also enable Tennessee to tell major advanced manufacturing and technology-heavy corporations that we produce hundreds of highly-skilled mechatronics graduates each year who are ready to join their team,” Denn said.
The program will help advance Tennessee’s Drive to 55 initiative to equip at least 55 percent of working-age Tennesseans with a college degree or credential by 2025. For Tennessee to remain competitive in recruiting jobs, the state must continue to produce a trained workforce.
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development estimates a deficit of nearly 2,000 mechatronics-qualified workers each year.