Thanks to a new partnership with Chesapeake Public Schools, Tidewater Community College and the City of Chesapeake, 27 high school freshmen are preparing for an in-demand career in mechatronics while still in high school.

“Two years ago we started with a group of people and an idea,” said Lisa Rhine, provost of the Chesapeake Campus. “Today, it all comes together, and we couldn’t be prouder of this dynamic community partnership.”

Mayor Alan Krasnoff proclaimed October 30 as “Manufacturing and School Partnership Day” in honor of the TCC and Chesapeake Public Schools mechatronics pathway.

“We are Chesapeake and we get things done. I offer my congratulations to the partners who worked to make this happen and I applaud the students who are giving this program their full attention,” he said. “You are stretching your limits, learning to grow and moving to the next stage of your lives.”

Diane Newell with Sumitomo Drive Technologies with Samantha Walker, a freshman at Western Branch High.

The new dual-enrollment program began with a mentor-matching event, giving students the opportunity to connect with advanced manufacturing representatives.

Samantha Walker, a freshman at Western Branch High said, “I’m ready to get started and meeting these mentors is very exciting. I love technology, and I knew this program was for me.”

Joshua Nutt from Oscar Smith High added, “I’m still in shock over this opportunity. It’s so great to meet these mentors and start on the path to being an engineer.”

The program also included a scholarship drive among area manufacturers, bringing in $12,000 to help students pay for college courses while still in high school. Participating organizations are Air Systems International, GeoQuip Manufacturing, Manufacturing and Design Tech, Mitsubishi Plastics Composites America, Nitto Denko, Sumitomo Drive Technologies, Usui International, Yupo Corporation and the City of Chesapeake Department of Economic Development.

The scholarship drive began with the kick off of Advanced Manufacturing Month and a plant tour of Mitsubishi Plastic Composites America on Oct. 9. Steven Wright, director, City of Chesapeake Department of Economic Development, spoke about the city’s diverse economy and attributed its growth to the strong base of manufacturing firms in the region. “It’s only fitting that we recognize manufacturing in Chesapeake with a month-long celebration,” Wright said.