Big-time jobs await mechatronics grads |

Big-time jobs await mechatronics grads

Terence K. McAteer
Special to The Union

Sierra College mechatronics program graduates heading into real world with high-demand talents.
Submitted photo

Sierra College’s mechatronics program sounds almost too good to be true. This seven course certification program, which is completed in three to four semesters at the Nevada County campus, all but insures a job.

“We can’t come close to meeting demand,” said Program Instructor Tony Osladil.

In fact, as he proudly surveys a bulletin board full of job opportunities at his Rocklin office, he points out that starting pay is from $70,000 to $110,000 per year for Mechatronic graduates in the greater Sacramento area job market.

Many of the jobs will go unfilled as Sierra College has more job postings than students in the program. “We are the best kept secret but we don’t want it to be a secret. We want to tell the world,” Osladil said.

Mechatronics, a new tech buzz word, is just what it implies; a program which melds electronics mechanization and robotics. Osladil notes that most graduates assume positions in local firms in installing, repairing or maintaining automated equipment.

Many aspects of our work world, from health care to manufacturing to computer science, has electrical equipment that needs installation, repair and maintenance. Osladil knows, as he is an electrical engineer who worked for Intel for many years and has seen the rapid growth of this new field.

“This area is all about logic coupled with hands-on skills,” said Osladil.

Half of the students in the program are currently employed and returning back to college to learn these lucrative skills.

“They set the tone for the program,” said instructor Roy Ingram who, until recently, worked for computer giant NEC.

The other half are recent high school graduates who are first-time college students.

The program is designed for those who love to tinker and want to use a variety of skills to problem solve. Moreover, there are no additional entrance requirements other than enrolling at Sierra College and paying the small tuition. About 90 percent of students in the program are male but as Ingram notes, “this is a great career path for women.”

Students are all working on up-to-date equipment, funded by a $900,000 federal and state grant funds. Therefore, students learn on the same industrial quality equipment, same sensors, and motors as used in today’s workplace.

Many recent graduates have gone to work for a wide variety of employers such as Nestle Wafers, Sierra Pacific Lumber, Sugar Bowl Ski Resort, Schilling Robotics, Telefunken Semiconductor and Cirque du Soleil. As the human relations manager for Cirque notes, “Sierra College Mechatronics is one of only three programs of this caliber we have found in the entire U.S.”

Beyond basic technical training the program also teaches students many of the “soft-skills” needed to be successful in industry. Instruction and experience in safe working practices, complete and accurate documentation, clean and organized work habits, written and verbal commu-nication skills, teamwork and methodical troubleshooting methods are an integral part of our program.

For more information on the Sierra College mechatronics program, check out their website at: or call them at 916-660-7862.

Terry McAteer is the former Nevada County Superintendent of Schools and a current member of The Union’s Editorial Board.

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