OFTC Mechatronics Student James Scarborough Leverages Skills to Start Career at Parker Aerospace
OFTC –After graduating with degrees in Computer Science and Information Technology (IT), James Scarborough decided he wanted to go in a different direction with his career.
While he enjoyed the software side of computer science and IT, he didn’t love it. What he loved was the hardware and hands-on aspects of his field.
He started researching programs and career paths which combined his love for the industry with more hands-on application; and what he found was a Mechatronics Technology program at Oconee Fall Line Technical College (OFTC).
“I had never heard of mechatronics, so I reached out to the staff at OFTC and set up a meeting to talk more about the program and tour the lab,” Scarborough shared. “What I learned was that mechatronics combined many aspects of what I already knew with things I didn’t know, like circuit analysis, programable logic controllers… it was exactly what I was looking for.”
After touring the program, Scarborough knew he needed to enroll.
“The price was affordable, especially when compared to other options, and the campus was close to where I live so the commute from campus to my home was manageable,” Scarborough said. “I knew I had to enroll.”
A Flexible Environment
When he started classes, Scarborough was surprised at how different the environment was from the classes he’d taken at other colleges. “I expected it to be more like a traditional college or university with a bit more hands-on experience,” he said, “but what I found was totally different – in a good way.”
His classes were flexible, and the instructors placed a genuine emphasis on ensuring students understood the material.
“The flexibility of my classes allowed me to finish the course content at my own pace, which was very important when I started a new full-time job,” Scarborough shared. “My instructors were always available to help if I ever got stuck or ran into any problems with an assignment, but they also let me explore on my own and work through problems.”
“You can also tell the instructors are passionate about what they teach,” he added. “They never acted as if they knew everything, and if they didn’t have an answer to a particular problem or question, they would look into it and find one.”
The Right Fit
After taking classes for a couple of semesters, Scarborough realized he’d found his niche.
“These classes have provided me with an opportunity to not only learn the theory behind mechatronics but to gain hands-on experience in areas like Programable Logic Controllers, Alternating and Direct Circuits, and so much more,” Scarborough said.
“It has also helped me professionally by giving me the skills I needed to get a job in my desired field before even completing my program of study.”
Scarborough started working at Parker Aerospace in June as an Assembler where he performs a variety of tasks from part marking and engraving to assembly and inspecting parts.
His goal is to be well versed in his knowledge and skills in a variety of areas to make himself more valuable to his employer.
“I want to learn as much as I can about mechatronics, integrating and expanding upon my experiences in IT and computer science in order to be as flexible as possible,” he said. “I have always liked the idea of doing many things rather than specializing in one specific task… it keeps things interesting that way.”
Working full-time and taking classes has been ad adjustment for Scarborough, but one he says he’s been able to manage thanks to the flexibility and support he’s found at OFTC.
“It’s been a challenge, but in a good way,” he said. “I’ve had to learn how to better manage my time to ensure I have enough time to complete my coursework, but my instructors have really worked with me to ensure I can manage both working and furthering my education.”
And even though he’s already landed a job in-field, Scarborough doesn’t plan to stop learning once he’s completed his Associate Degree in Mechatronics Technology.
“I am considering returning to OFTC after I complete the mechatronics program to enroll in the Electronics Technology program,” he said. “The skills learned in this program will help me further advance my knowledge and skills which will give me more opportunities to go further in my current field.”
“I have really just enjoyed my time at OFTC,” he added. “From the students to the instructors, staff, and faculty, it has been an enjoyable experience. The level of hands-on practice and learning you get here is something I have not encountered anywhere else. Plus, it’s very affordable. I’d recommend OFTC to anyone looking to further their education.”