South Central College mechatronics program receives nearly $1.3 million grant

South Central College mechatronics program receives nearly $1.3 million grant

NORTH MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — South Central College has received a nearly $1.3 million Advanced Technological Education Program Grant from the National Science Foundation to implement the next phase of the college’s mechatronics distance learning model, iMEC.

The iMEC model incorporates Independent Remote Experiential Learning Lab systems that students can use in their homes or workplaces. This method of learning makes it possible for students to complete their course lab work at remote locations with synchronized instruction.

“The key about this particular process is we have these trainers that go home. They’re home-safe. They can be used, there’s safe voltages, and they can emulate the labs that they would do here. So this particular case could go home. It’s got a handle, and they can do the same labs at home as they do here,” explained Doug Laven, a mechatronics faculty member at SCC.

The new programming also includes partnerships with area school districts to help bring mechatronics education to rural high school students.

“What is really important for our high school kids is they’re learning what are the career opportunities in our region, and this is a big one," South Central College President Annette Parker added. "It really gives them a really nice middle-class wage, a family sustainable wage in an occupation that is just going to be huge for all sectors, because it’s around automation and robotics that impacts just about every sector of our economy.”

Parker is also working with colleges nationwide to help them find ways to incorporate the iMEC model into their curriculums to make remote learning a possibility for students across the United States.

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