While college grads across the nation with fancy degrees face no employment prospects, South Central has at least two areas that boast that either everyone who graduates gets a job — or that they can’t produce enough graduates to fill all the open jobs in their field.
And those two are mechatronics and computer-integrated machining.
That’s right — manufacturing. It was supposedly the old, dying man of the American economy just a few years ago. But it’s apparently undergoing a revival, and with job prospects way up, those two fields are featured prominently at the college.
In the Mechatronics Technology Education Center, 22-year-old Jesse Geiger of Mankato tinkers with his class project: a computerized elevator control system. He has written the program that controls it, designed the setup of the components that would run it, and done the wiring himself.
He works at the school, but is eyeing a job as a technician at a nearby company that makes water regulators or at a firm that does metal casting.
Sounds like he might have a shot.
Center Director Dough Laven says:
“Everybody who has graduated from here got a job. And five who dropped out, did so because they got jobs.”
Over in computer integrated machining, instructor Jon Morgan oversees students who design and produce items both manually and with computerized machinery on the shop floor.
Students learn to use the old school machines to be closer to the process, learn about metals and have a better feel for specifications. After that, they go on to design and produce with the high-tech systems.
Morgan tells me:
“You’ve got to learn to walk before you crawl.”
He says the regional Minnesota market has more jobs than he can fill.
And former student Shawn Hagen says a South Central instructor can get students jobs in the field while they’re still working — as long as they commit to the heavy work-and-study load they’ll be taking on.
Sounds like a deal a lot of students in other fields would kill for.