Recently, Hamilton County Superintendent Rick Smith praised Tyner Academy for a new class with a name unfamiliar to most of us. It's called Mechatronics, or as some call it, the "geek squad."  You can laugh all you want, but it's preparing students for some terrific jobs, right out of high school.

It's all about problem solving in Tyner Academy's Mechatronics class.  Students like Frederick Stone and Derek Ormond spend their days writing code so that robots will do as they're told.

Junior Frederick Stone  said, "We've been working on those robots, and what it says in the instructions doesn't always work the best."

The class exists because of a need in the community. As high tech employers continue to move into the market, they need well trained employees. Gestamp, which supplies components to auto manufacturers, has provided many of the tools and machines used in teacher Bryan Robinson's classroom. For them, and others, it's a good investment.

Robinson said, "Yes we've talked with Volkswagen, McKee, Gestamp, Amazon, and when these kids graduate, they're ready to pick 'em."  

This is among a wave of new classes where textbooks are yesterday's news.  Mechatronics is about trial and error, putting theories into practice, learning from mistakes, improvising and adapting quickly. Stone said, "Not everything's perfect. You have to make changes without destroying what you've all the work you've done." 

It takes a special student to succeed in the class.  It's not for everyone.  In fact, Tyner is the first Hamilton County school to offer the program.  Based on the success of what's happening here, it won't be the last.

Junior Derek Ormond said he spends every spare minute in the Mechatronics classroom. "It's an opportunity for a career, and this is a good starting point," he said.

The Mechatronics program at Tyner has started with just nine students, but will soon expand to 25.  In addition to hands-on learning in the classroom, the students take field trips to visit local manufacturers, to see their needs, first-hand.