VALDOSTA – Wiregrass Georgia Technical College’s Mechatronics instructor Joshua Whittington is headed to Russia with the national champions for Mechatronics for the WorldSkills 2019 competition in August.
Whittington has coached the national Mechatronics champion team since 2017, college officials said. The WorldSkills competition is held every two years; this year, it will be hosted in Kazan, Russia.
Whittington became interested in the field of mechatronics back in high school at Tift County.
“I was fortunate to graduate from one of the only Mechatronics programs in that state at that time,” he said.
After high school graduation, he attended Moultrie Technical College to further his education in industrial systems technology, a program closely tied to Mechatronics.
Whittington first got involved with the Nationals SKillsUSA when he was in college at Moultrie Tech. He competed at the state level and made it to National SkillsUSA competition.
At nationals, he made great connections at the national level and after attending the WorldSkills 2017 Abu Dhabi competition, he was asked to coach the next team.
His work with the team began in 2017 as he was asked to help choose, train and manage the team. The WorldSkills 2019 SkillsUSA Mechatronics Team is comprised of the two national champions for Mechatronics. The two competitors are from Stanly Community College in North Carolina.
“We have trained at the Festo United States headquarters in Mason, Ohio and here at Wiregrass Tech,” Whittington said. “Our equipment here at Wiregrass provides the closest substitute to the equipment found at the WordSkills competition.”
"We are extremely fortunate to have a world-renowned technical expert such as Joshua at our institution. His experiences at the global level are an invaluable resource for our graduates and local industries,” said Joe Sumner, associate vice president of program development for Wiregrass.
Many may not be familiar with the term, “Mechatronics.”
“Mechatronics is the combination of everything that makes our manufacturing industry function," Whittington said. "It includes electrical, mechanical, controls and computer science.”
When asked if he sees this field growing in South Georgia, he said, “Yes. We are beginning to see many industries moving to our region that incorporate mechatronics, and rural Georgia must establish an educated skills and equipped workforce to encourage more industry to move here.”
Wiregrass offers Mechatronics as a certificate- and degree-level program on the Valdosta campus, college officials said.
The degree-level program offers an articulation agreement for graduates who have successfully completed the program to enter the engineering program at Kennesaw State University.
Wiregrass is currently accepting new students for fall semester, classes start Aug. 14. Each campus of Wiregrass will host a free application week June 17-20 where people who apply in person will have their application fee waived.
To learn more about Wiregrass programs, visit www.wiregrass.edu.