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Blinn board approves naming of STEI building health sciences wing

Trustees also approve new AAS degree in mechatronics

Trustees also approve new AAS degree in mechatronics

April 20, 2021

The Blinn College District Board of Trustees approved the naming of the health sciences portion of the Brenham Campus science, technology, engineering, and innovation (STEI) building in honor of the BetsWest Foundation and Sally Blackie-Sengel, and also approved a new program that will launch in the facility in Spring 2022 during its regular meeting Tuesday.

Blackie-Sengel, through the BetsWest Foundation, has pledged a $500,000 gift to support the STEI building that will open for the Fall 2021 semester. This 72,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility will feature 17,000 square feet of laboratory space and includes a 3,000-square-foot innovation center where students can collaborate while engaging with a 3D printing lab, soldering space, robotics area, interrelated computing devices workshop, virtual reality space, and high-tech fabrication shop.

On the second floor of the facility, the nursing classroom and simulation and skills laboratories will be named in honor of the BetsWest Foundation and Blackie-Sengel. This dedicated space for the Vocational Nursing Program features a nursing skills lab where students gain hands-on experience in 10 simulation bays, as well as an adjacent nurses’ station and debrief conference room.

The simulation laboratories include three high-fidelity simulation rooms where Blinn faculty can use computerized simulators to provide a real-to-life patient care experience.

“Blinn is proud to celebrate the BetsWest Foundation and Sally Blackie-Sengel by naming this space in their honor,” said Dr. Mary Hensley, Chancellor of the Blinn College District.

In other business, the board authorized a new Associate of Applied Science (AAS) Degree in Mechatronics that will launch in Spring 2022.

The degree prepares students for positions in the emerging mechatronics field by teaching them to install, maintain, diagnose, and repair robotic and automated manufacturing systems. Through the program, students study electrical systems, electronics, mechanical systems, hydraulics, pneumatics, networking, computer controls, and robotics.

“Blinn College District mechatronics students will learn to design, install, and repair industrial automation systems,” said Jay Anderson, Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences, Technical Education, and Community Programs. “They will utilize integrated electromechanical systems to add value and control production operations within industrial settings. These are the skills employers seek and are willing to pay high wages.”

Courses in the degree plan include Electricity Principles, Robotics, Principles of Automatic Control, Basic Fluid Power, Digital Systems, Industrial Automation, Industrial Electronics, Microcomputer Control, Instrumentation and Safety, Industrial Maintenance, Advanced Programmable Logic Controllers, Electromechanical Systems, Computer Integrated Manufacturing, and an industry internship. Students also learn key workplace attributes, including time management, collaboration, operations analysis, and customer service.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, electro-mechanical and mechatronics technicians nationally earn a median salary of $59,800 and work in a wide array of industries, including advanced manufacturing and robotics; telecommunications and information services; agriculture, food, and forestry; renewable engineering; transportation and logistics; and homeland security and defense. Texas ranks second in the nation in employment of electro-mechanical and mechatronics technicians, and the Dallas/Fort Worth/Arlington and Houston/The Woodlands/Sugar Land metropolitan areas have the third and fourth highest employment levels, respectively.

While the AAS in Mechatronics is designed for students interested in immediate entry into the engineering technology industry, students enrolled in the program can continue their education by pursuing Tarleton State University’s Bachelor of Applied Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology at the RELLIS Campus.

“With the introduction of this AAS Degree in Mechatronics, Blinn will offer the most comprehensive mechatronics program in the state, providing students classroom instruction and hands-on learning experiences in this exciting, fast-growing career path,” said Max Hibbs, Dean of Engineering, Computer Technology, and Innovation.

The board also received a report regarding the districtwide facilities master plan report and authorized the College to negotiate and execute a pipeline easement agreement.

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