Most of us know nanotechnology as the construction of small shiny chips. In order mass produce them as they do out in Albany the majority of the work is done by skilled trades.
Michael Higgins, the Coordinator of Mechatronics at Mohawk Valley Community College says, “They make chips by the thousands. Nobody touches it, they’re all done by an automated process. And they need an army of technicians, to monitor, repair and calibrate that process.”
A need the Mohawk Valley and local colleges have been pursuing in order to build a new workforce of manufacturers.
Higgins adds, “If you look at it, those silvery disks, are the beginning of chips. These are large silicon wafers, on which you’ll go through a series of processes. Its put into another front, and when this is empty, goes back for more. And that’s done without human intervention.”
In mechatronics, students will learn a variety of automation skills, specifically how to spot a problem and how to fix it. While some may think there’s only a handful of nanotech jobs for them, Higgins says a certification in automation will open up doors for a variety of other careers.
“It has many other uses: materials handling, production, production control…The other thing it does, is that automation takes a worker and makes their labor more valuable. And the employer should be able to pay them more because each out unit of work is now worth a lot more.”
Credits earned through mechatronics at MVCC are transferable to other technician training programs at the college. And for those interesting in learning more about the program,