Saturday, July 13, 2024

VPCC’s Mechatronics Program Just What Student Wanted

Josh Carr (Virginia Peninsula Community College)

HAMPTON — Two years ago, as he was applying for the mechatronics program at
Virginia Peninsula Community College offered through the New Horizons Education Center,
Josh Carr knew little about it.

“I’ve always wanted to do some sort of hands-on engineering. I just didn’t know what it
was called,” Carr said.

In that abbreviated time, Carr has earned more than a dozen industry certifications, the
most of anyone who has come through the program, according to Rich Wilcox, the program
head for mechatronics.

Mechatronics combines aspects of mechanical, electrical, electronic and software
engineering, often using robotics and computer science, in manufacturing.

Carr, who graduated from Lafayette High School in Williamsburg this month, started the
New Horizons mechatronics program in his junior year. He did it for two years, recently earning a Level II certificate.

“This year, he got the hardest certificate we have, which is a certified associate. We’ve
only had three students get that certification,” Wilcox said.

Carr enjoys working with his hands, taking things apart or breaking them, and then
putting them back together.

“You get to do all that here — 90% of all the classes are lab so we’re always
wiring something or we’re programming robots,” stated Carr.

He didn’t know what to expect at the start of the program but soon fell in love with it.

“It turned out it’s exactly what I wanted to do for a career,” Carr said.

Eventually, Carr wants to earn a bachelor’s degree and maybe a master’s, but for now, he
plans to enter the workforce.

Carr enjoyed the mechatronics program because it allowed him to experience all types of engineering. However, his favorites are mechanical and electrical, so he wants to pursue a job in one of those fields.

In his free time, Carr races mountain bikes — and often trains on his road bike — so
working in research and development for a major bike company would be his dream job.

He highly recommends the program and credits his success to his teachers, who have
helped him immensely over the last two years.

“Anybody who asks they might want to go into engineering, I’ve been telling them to
come check this out,” Carr explained. “You get to dip your toes into all of engineering. Mechatronics is a great stepping stone.”

Wilcox said Carr deserves the credit.

“He enjoys this,” Wilcox said. “If you have a student that enjoys this and give them a little
direction, they pretty much do it on their own. You don’t have to sell it to them.”

For more information on VPCC’s mechatronics program, visit the webpage.

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