Pickens County Mechatronics Team Heading to National Competition - Pickens Sentinel
PICKENS COUNTY - While their classmates are getting ready for some time off this summer, two local students are preparing to represent the School District of Pickens County in a major competition.
In April, Jared Venesky and Russell Brinson finished in first place in mechatronics at the South Carolina SkillsUSA Competition held at the Carolina First Center in Greenville. As state champions, they have earned the right to compete against other top teams from around the country at the SkillsUSA National Competition June 20-25 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Representing Pickens County and the state of South Carolina in competition is an honor that both young men are extremely excited about and they also recognize the impact that the skills they have learned will have long after all of the competitions are over.
"The mechatronics competitions have really helped boost my confidence," stated Russell Brinson, a rising senior at Pickens High School. "At the beginning of the state competition I thought, "Oh no, I am going up against the best of the seniors in the state and I am expected to place first‟, however once it was done I realized how much I actually knew about mechatronics."
"The mechatronics program has shown me many doors of opportunity even at the high school level and hopefully more will be available after the nationals," continued Brinson.
"I feel privileged to be in the mechatronics program at Pickens County Career Center," added Jared Venesky, Brinson's teammate and a rising senior at Easley High School. "Winning the state competition was a big honor for a junior and I am looking forward to doing my best at national competition in Kansas City and representing South Carolina".
The study of mechatronics began with the merging of electrical and mechanical engineering disciplines. Recent advancements in technology have also resulted in the inclusion of additional fields such as software engineering, control engineering and systems design engineering.
During SkillsUSA competition, Russell and Jared will have to demonstrate their ability in all of these areas as participants are asked to assemble, adjust and test an automated machine system, troubleshoot and repair a faulty machine system and take a comprehensive written test.
Hank Hutto, instructor of Mechatronics Integrated Technologies at the Career Center, is very happy with the success of the young team. "To be first in the state with a junior team is awesome and they should only get better next year as seniors," Hutto said.
The mechatronics program also offers other advantages according to Hutto. "This program gives students a jumpstart in college because they will have the chance to earn 13 hours of credit toward their degree," Hutto explained.
"Just imagine the resumes of these students when they graduate from the career center".
The success of Russell and Jared's efforts and the entire mechatronic program at the Career Center is of particular interest to Ray Farley, executive director of Alliance Pickens, because of the value represented to local companies as well as those who may consider locating in Pickens County in the future.
"The mechatronics program is another great example of how the Career Center and Pickens County Schools are committed to preparing our mechanically and technically capable students for success in the classroom and in the workplace," said Farley.
"It is important to note here that Russell and Jared have only just completed their junior year. Under Hank Hutto's teaching at the Career Center, they beat a bunch of seniors statewide. Whether Russell and Jared choose to get jobs right out of high school, choose to attend the Tri County Tech mechatronics program, or engineering at Clemson, they both have very bright futures ahead of them in the mechatronics profession," Farley continued.
Students graduating from the Career Center mechatronics program earn starting wages in the $15 to $17 per hour range, and higher. Students who graduate from the Tri County Tech mechatronics program earn starting wages in the $18 to $23 per hour range.
To learn more about the School District of Pickens County's mechatronics program, please contact Mr. Hank Hutto at the Career Center, (864) 855-8195.