A new engineering program received a nearly quarter-million-dollar welcome to Hudson Valley this summer from one of the nation’s largest banks.
The $230,000 grant by JP Morgan Chase supports the construction of a new mechatronics laboratory facility at TEC-SMART in Malta. Construction for the lab is expected to begin later this month.
“They heard of [the mechatronics program] and they saw what we were doing in Malta, so they thought it would be a good opportunity to have an offering that would produce employees,” said Phil White, dean of Hudson Valley’s School of Business, School of Engineering and Industrial Technologies.
The new program is one of four STEM career pathways Early College High School students at TEC-SMART can take. The others are computer science, clean energy, and entrepreneurship.
“The funding for a mechatronics lab provided by JPMorgan Chase and Hudson Valley’s commitment to develop a lab at TEC-SMART will further enable our students to pursue a career pathway that leads to employment with one of our program sponsors right here in the region,” said Joseph Dragone, superintendent of the Ballston Spa Central School District, in an email.
Graduates can expect to make starting salaries of $25 per hour, or $49,500 per year. Students graduating from the program can apply mechatronics in automotive, medical and aerospace industries. “A lot of manufacturers are looking for […] skills that cross disciplines. They need someone with multiple skills and the ability to problem-solve around all these different areas,” said Penny Hill, associate dean at TEC-SMART.
“In the way industry is moving and what they’re looking for their employers to have, Mechatronics is fitting the bill,” said White. The program was approved by the Board of Trustees as early as 2013 and was introduced to Hudson Valley’s fall program schedule this January.
According to White, the program was driven by faculty in the Electrical Construction and Maintenance department, which has worked in conjunction with SUNY Delhi. Once Delhi’s bachelor’s degree program is approved by SUNY and the State Education Department, the mechatronics program’s credits will be fully transferable to the Delhi program.
Currently, 18 students on the Troy campus are enrolled in the program to support “controlled growth” of the new major. Unlike TEC-SMART, the main campus already has laboratory space available, in Williams Hall, to host the new program.
Although neighboring schools such as Schenectady County Community College have a certificate program for mechatronics, Hudson Valley is currently the only school in the region to offer a two-year associate degree for the advanced manufacturing program.
“We were going forward with mechatronics either way. This presented us with a new opportunity when JP Morgan Chase came to us,” said Dennis Kennedy, director of communications and marketing. The grant is part of JPMorgan Chase’s “Commitment to New York State,” which also includes grants allocating $220,000 to Onondaga Community College, $320,000 to Monroe Community College, and $230,000 to SUNY Buffalo. Along with the mechatronics program, investments made by JPMorgan Chase largely fund regional manufacturing programs.