Motlow College and Bridgestone Americas have joined together to create a unique program that allows Motlow mechatronics students to continue their education while working as interns for Bridgestone.
During a recent ceremony at Motlow’s McMinnville Center, it was announced that Tecca Sheets and Shane Hinson, students at the center, will participate in the brand new internship program at the Bridgestone Americas Tire Operation plant in Warren County.
The new program will allow students to gain experience in the workplace while they continue their studies at Motlow. The internship will mirror the work that students learn at Motlow, while giving them the opportunity to apply what they learn.
“This is a great chance for the interns to be able to gain practical experience while earning a degree,” said Fred Rascoe, director of career readiness and assistant professor of mechatronics at Motlow. “Bridgestone is a great sponsor; this is a wonderful opportunity they’re giving students.”
Mechatronics is a form of engineering that blends computer, electrical and mechanical technologies that together form a complex system used by many manufacturing, packaging and other modern operations. Sheets and Hinson are the first participants in the program, which Motlow and Bridgestone have been planning for over a year.
“It’s a once-in-a- lifetime opportunity, being able to get paid to work and learn the things you love doing,” said Sheets. “I’m really excited to be able to be a part of something new, while getting to do exactly what I love to do.”
“It’s a great opportunity,” added Hinson. “I’m very proud that I was chosen; it’s an honor, and I’m excited.”
The mechatronics program at Motlow features two levels of certification. Both Sheets and Hinson have completed their first level certification and will continue through the second level while they intern at Bridgestone.
Motlow and Bridgestone have partnered in the past, as Bridgestone hosts a classroom and learning center for Motlow mechatronics students in LaVergne. However, the internship program is the first of its kind for the college and for all colleges in the state.
“We are extremely excited that Motlow is willing to be a partner with us,” said Keith Hamilton, corporate manager of the North America Manufacturing and Education Center for Bridgestone Americas Tire Operation in LaVergne. “That’s rare for a college to partner with a business like Bridgestone.”
Hamilton and Bridgestone hope that more colleges and high schools will be involved in similar internship programs in order to benefit both the company and students.
“Businesses are going to have to be innovative, not only in the products and services that they provide, but in the development of their workforce,” continued Hamilton. “Traditional methods for finding your workers are not working, so companies will have to change their paradigm in the way they are going to recruit and retain their workforce.”
Hamilton believes that Motlow and Bridgestone are setting a new standard for colleges and businesses across the state and nation.
“Motlow College is stepping out to be different,” added Hamilton. “This program is a very innovative and forward model that will be a selling tool for the state to recruit workforce availability.”