Baker College of Cadillac and the Michigan Economic Development have partnered to provide Michigan's only MAT2 Program
Baker College of Cadillac and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) have partnered to provide the opportunity for students to earn no-cost associate degrees in mechatronics, work and earn money while attending college, and be guaranteed employment upon graduation. The first cohort begins Monday, June 22.
“This mechatronics program essentially offers students full-ride scholarships and the opportunity to leverage college work and paid on-the-job experience to become a master of a skilled technical profession,” said Kelly Smith, Baker College of Cadillac president. “Bottom line, it’s higher education that leads directly to a rewarding career. And, it’s a wonderfully unique approach to address the very real skills gap in the state and especially in northern Michigan.”
The word mechatronics stems from the combination of the words mechanical and electronics. The mechatronics program focuses on the electrical, mechanical and electronic skills used to identify, analyze and solve manufacturing problems. A mechatronics technician supports engineers by maintaining manufacturing machines and related equipment, including repairing, testing and making minor modifications to them.
The mechatronics program is part of the Michigan Advanced Technician Training (MAT2) that is administered by MEDC. MAT2 programs are an early initiative of Gov. Rick Snyder. They are based on the German model of apprenticeship, which blends a traditional classroom setting with on-the-job training.
Following a pilot program in southeastern Michigan that began in 2013, the mechatronics program will be offered at colleges throughout Michigan this year. Baker College of Cadillac is the only location in northern Michigan.
Sponsoring companies help train the students and employ them during college and upon graduation. The students navigate the program as a tight-knit unit, attending college and working at the sponsoring companies in recurrent eight-week intervals. The first cohort that begins in June will complete the program June 2018.
Each participant is ensured a steady income throughout the program: $200 a week to cover personal expenses while attending classes at Baker College plus an hourly wage that will increase annually at the sponsoring company.
One of the requirements for entry to the program is a high school diploma or a GED certificate. Interested individuals are encouraged to apply as soon as possible because applications are reviewed and accepted on an ongoing basis. Applications are made through MEDC at www.mitalent.org/mat2.
Baker College and MEDC are continuing to recruit companies to sponsor and employ the first cohort. The following companies have committed to sponsor 11 students for the Baker College of Cadillac program: Avon Automotive, Avon Protection, Cadillac Casting Inc., FIAMM Technologies Inc., Kalkaska Screw Products, Rec Boat Holdings LLC, Rexair Inc. and Skilled Manufacturing Inc.
Mark Lagerwey, Baker College of Cadillac dean of business and technology, said, “Our challenge is to communicate the strong opportunities of a career in advanced manufacturing technology to students and their families. This is an exceptional opportunity for a motivated person. Those with drive and determination will excel.”
He noted an example of the pilot program’s success: A student who entered the MAT2 mechatronics pilot program immediately out of high school in 2013 was named one of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers’ 30 under 30 in 2014, before she’s even completed the program.
“Baker College’s focus on advanced manufacturing technology is to help meet the demand for such skills in northern Michigan. Our state is in need of rebuilding its high-tech talent base,” he said. “The mechatronics program fits well with two of our other advanced manufacturing technology programs: computer aided design (CAD) and computer numerical control (CNC).”
Additional MAT2 programs may soon be added to that list. Lagerwey is a member of the development committee for a MAT2 path in computer numerical control (CNC), which will likely launch throughout the state, including at Baker College of Cadillac, late this year.
For more information about the mechatronics program, contact Cheri Sprik in the admissions office at 231.876.3119 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.baker.edu.