Graduating student Brooke Netherton smiles outside the Spearman Building on the Henderson County Campus.
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Nineteen-year-old Brooke Netherton is preparing to join the workforce after completing her Mechatronics Apprenticeship and graduating with Blue Ridge Community College’s Class of 2022.
Following graduation, Netherton will be a certified Mechatronics Engineering Technology Industrial Manufacturing Production Technician; she is eager to find a position in her new town: Spartanburg, South Carolina. More than that, she is proud to be the newest member of her family to work as an engineer.
“My whole family are mechanics and engineers so I followed their path,” Netherton said. “I also like robotics and working with my hands, so I got the best of both worlds in mechatronics.”
Netherton started in the mechatronics apprenticeship program when she was 17-years-old and still in high school. She considered nursing and marine biology, but ultimately chose mechatronics after speaking with a coordinator at her high school.
“It’s like mechanical engineering and robotics smashed together,” she said, as she described the program. “In a lab, we got to build this robot and we learned about sensors. It was so funny to watch a little robot run around into a wall and say ‘Ouch!’”
Netherton remembers building the speaking robot fondly and treasures the friendships she has made while at Blue Ridge. Most of all, she expressed gratitude for the opportunities the apprenticeship program has provided.
“It’s great to get job experience while in school. Usually high schoolers aren’t where I am right now, and job recruiters have already said my experience and knowledge make me a strong candidate for a job,” Netherton said.
During the apprenticeship program, Netherton worked for Linamar and experienced multiple areas of production.
“I’ve been able to go around the entire plant. I did Computerized Numerical Control (CNC) machining and it was interesting to see different programming,” Netherton said. “I also do maintenance on machines now, so I go under die casting machines, and swim around in hydraulic fluid.”
Netherton encouraged others to go into mechatronics and manufacturing as well.
“Manufacturing is a high demand industry, so you can always find somewhere to fit in with manufacturing,” Netherton said. “There’s room for you to grow and learn to do what you want to do.”
Mechatronics Engineering Technology is part of the Engineering program at Blue Ridge Community College and draws upon principles of mechanics, electronics and computing to provide skills needed to develop and troubleshoot robotics, programmable controllers and integrated systems. More information about the Engineering program can be found at blueridge.edu/engineering. Information about Apprenticeship Blue Ridge is available at blueridge.edu/apprentice.