Seven months after graduating from Virginia Peninsula Community College’s mechatronics program, Zach Tilley was on campus helping his employer recruit more talent.
Muhlbauer is an international company involved in the production of passports, personalization of cards, and radio frequency identification (RFID). He was hired as a field service engineer with the company in May 2022, one month before graduating from VPCC’s mechatronics program.
“All the classes I took here worked well (with what he’s doing now),” said Tilley, who repairs and installs equipment, and helps with production.
He enjoys seeing the manufacturing process that goes into everyday products.
“For instance, your credit cards,” he said. “They seem simple, but it actually goes through a tremendous amount of manufacturing that we don’t ever see.”
Shortly after being hired, he spent 14 weeks in Slovakia for training. It was an experience he’ll never forget, and he’s in regular contact with friends he made there. On Jan. 30, he’s off to Germany for repairs and installations, and to help with production problems.
What does he like most about his job?
“Seeing what we’re doing and what we’re working for in the future,” he said.
Keyonna Stewart, an HR administrator for Muhlbauer, also was on hand for the 20-minute presentation to a dozen VPCC students. She said, at this time, the College is the only school the company visits. They were at VPCC in the spring of last year, too. Her supervisor thought it would be a good place to find talent.
“We were trying to initiate, originally, an intern-type of program, so she came here with that in mind,” Stewart said. “Now, it’s like let’s just get our mechatronics students here.”
The company’s Newport News location, near Fort Eustis, is looking to fill 10 positions. However, Muhlbauer has openings at its New Mexico, Colorado and Oregon locations. With the company opening a new assembly plant, it is looking to hire 100 people by the end of the year.
The first thing she looks for on a resume is a mechatronics degree, certificate or experience. Or any type of hands-on mechanical experience Muhlbauer employees use in the field.
“There aren’t tons of people with mechatronics experience,” she said.
Rich Wilcox, head of the College’s mechatronics program, noted Muhlbauer uses mostly Festo equipment in its manufacturing processes, the same equipment students use for hands-on labs and projects. They need to be familiar with Festo equipment to earn certification.
“It was really reassuring when they said everything we taught in mechatronics aligned with what they needed,” he said.
Mechatronics is a type of engineering that combines designing, manufacturing and maintaining products that have mechanical and electronic components.
For more information on the College’s mechatronics program, go to https://www.vpcc.edu/programs/programs-of-study/programs/Mechatronics-Technology-Certificate.html.