Largest in program history: Butler Tech wins state grant for growing mechatronics program

Butler Tech officials recently learned their robotics mechatronics program for area high school students won a state grant of more then a quarter of a million dollars to buy new training equipment. The three-year-old mechatronics program - whose robotic lab is pictured - is already on par with most universities in the nation, say program officials. Teens earn industry credentials that allow them quick employment in area industries. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)

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Butler Tech officials recently learned their robotics mechatronics program for area high school students won a state grant of more then a quarter of a million dollars to buy new training equipment. The three-year-old mechatronics program - whose robotic lab is pictured - is already on par with most universities in the nation, say program officials. Teens earn industry credentials that allow them quick employment in area industries. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)

A Butler Tech robotics job accreditation program for high school students is among the recent winners of a first-time state grant totaling more than a quarter of a million dollars.

“It’s a game changer,” said Dave Campbell, an instructor in Butler Tech’s growing mechatronics program where teens learn how operate advance machinery and robotics.

The state grant of $257,930 is the largest received in the history of the career school’s mechatronics program.

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Butler Tech was one of 54 Ohio school systems to apply for and eventually all schools received a total of $13.5 million in state funding “in order to develop and implement quality programs that meet the needs of priority industry sectors,” said state officials in their announcement of the grants.

The Ohio Innovative Workforce Incentive Program grants “will help districts establish new programs for students to earn industry-recognized credentials in priority industry sectors,” said officials.

Schools can use this funding to invest in resources such as equipment, instructional materials, facilities and operational costs.

“This funding will help more high school students earn in-demand career credentials that lead to quality, higher-paying jobs without the steep cost and debt that comes with many college pathways,” Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted said.

“Career credentials are what an increasing number of businesses look for when making hiring decisions, and individual Ohioans and the Ohio economy benefit when more high school students graduate career-ready,” Husted said.

The career school, which serves Butler County high schools and is one of the largest in the state, plans to use its $257,930 in new state funding to purchase robotic material handlers so the students can learn and earn industry standard credentials.

Also, now on tab to be purchased are “industrial micro-computers that allow the interaction between machinery.”

“This allows our students to come out (graduate) with some really solid credentials,” and quickly seek employment in area industries that have immediate hiring needs, said Campbell, an 18-year veteran teacher at Butler Tech.

Starting pay for students graduating in mechatronics range from $20 to $30 per hour, he said.

Campbell said the three-year-old mechatronics program at Butler Tech is projected to keep growing from its current 57 high school students to about 75 next school year.

The new equipment is on order and expected to arrive for student use no later than March.

“When I look at our mechatronics lab, I firmly believe we are already on par with most major university engineering programs in the country. With this grant and getting the robotics (equipment) … I am very confident we will have a state-of-the-art facility that is better than most or as good as most research universities,” Campbell said.

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