It’s not your father’s shop class at high schools in Virginia’s Roanoke Valley. Students now take an Engineering Explorations class that eventually could prepare them to study mechatronics engineering at Virginia Western Community College, reports the Roanoke Times.
There’s demand for trained workers who understand electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and information technology, says Dan Horine, head of mechatronics at Virginia Western.
Several Roanoke area education officials project the need for 250 jobs in mechatronics with a starting pay of about $18 an hour.
. . . Horine can recite a laundry list of area employers — including Logistics, Maple Leaf Bakery, Optical Cable and Pulsa — that he said face a shortage of highly qualified employees. “They are starving for people with these highly technical skills,” Horine said.
Roanoke County schools hope some high school students will be able to take two years of pre-engineering courses, then earn a vocational certificate or two-year degree from Virginia Western while still in high school. Community college students who complete an associate degree in engineering with a B average are guaranteed admission to engineering programs at Virginia Tech.