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This Blinn College sophomore is building more than robots as he pursues his mechatronics degree. He's also building a career.

Garcia appreciates the program’s hands-on learning opportunities, affordability, and small class sizes

David Garcia

September 22, 2022

After spending the final two years of his high school education participating in remote classes, David Garcia was looking for an affordable program that offered hands-on learning opportunities and wouldn’t place him beneath a mountain of debt.

He found it in the Blinn College District Mechatronics Program, where he is pursuing a 60-credit-hour Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree with plans to transfer to Texas A&M University.

“Blinn was really a good idea for me because I found a way to transfer into Texas A&M without paying so much money,” the second-year student from Gainesville, Texas, said. “I have seen a lot of people have debt control their lives. My plan right now is to come out of school with no debt. That’s the whole reason why I’m pursuing my associate degree. Blinn has been really good about scholarships and grants, and as of now I don’t owe anything, which is really cool.”

As a Blinn College student, Garcia is saving 40% in tuition and fees this year compared to the average state university, and through Blinn’s endowed scholarship application, he quickly and conveniently applied for more than 300 scholarships with a single submission.

Even better, a career fair hosted on campus during his freshman year introduced Garcia to BENCOR, LLC, an electronic parts supplier based in Brenham that specializes in printed circuit board manufacturing and assembly. There, Garcia applies the skills he is learning through Blinn’s Mechatronics Program. After starting his career at BENCOR inserting parts into printed circuit boards, he now programs and operates a selective solder machine.

“Not only am I learning hands-on skills there, but I’m able to really focus on school and work,” Garcia said. “It’s really cool because we have this project that we’re working on at work, and in my robotics class we’re talking about step motors and programming, and what I’m learning in class is literally what I’m applying at work.”

Based at the Brenham Campus, Blinn’s Mechatronics Program is the most comprehensive in the state, preparing students for academic transfer to a bachelor’s degree program or for immediate entry into the workforce, where graduates can earn a median salary of $59,800 and work in a wide array of industries.

Through the program, students earn stackable credentials: a one-semester occupational skills award, a two-semester Level 1 certificate, a three-semester Level 2 certificate, and a four-semester AAS degree. With each award, students gain progressively advanced skills and are prepared for higher-paying career opportunities.

The program teaches students to install, maintain, diagnose, and repair robotic and automated manufacturing systems. Courses 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.

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

“My classes are so small that I’m really not afraid of meeting people,” Garcia said. “The professors have more of a personal connection with the students because they don’t have to teach a room full of a hundred kids. I think my biggest class was my first year here and there were about 20 kids.

“It’s really cool to have time with the professors and not only that, but Blinn has really good tutors. They have their systems arranged perfectly so that you can always step right into the Learning Center and meet with a tutor. I’ve never had to wait.”

Blinn’s Mechatronics Program is based in the new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Innovation Building, where students gain hands-on skills in an assortment of high-tech laboratories, including the 3,000-square-foot innovation center, where students have open space for robot construction and experimentation, as well as specialized engineering equipment, including a state-of-the-art process automation and pumps teaching system.

“For me, hands-on learning is the best – actually applying that knowledge rather than reading from a textbook,” Garcia said. “Blinn has figured out how to put students through the program as fast as possible without having them pay more money than is required or take more time than is required. It’s a really, really good hands-on learning experience.”

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