Hands On: Students From Central Get High School, College Credits at Volkswagen’s Mechatronics Akademie

THIRTY-SIX STUDENTS APPLIED FOR UPCOMING YEAR AT THE VOLKSWAGEN MECHATRONICS AKADEMIE — Last fall’s Mechatronics Akademie students learning in the Volkswagen Academy building’s classroom.

Savannah Smith, Editor-in-Chief

Students from Central, Tyner, East Hamilton and Ooltewah High Schools are trading in the comforts of their own familiar campuses for those of a modern, technologically-advanced one that promotes mechatronics and a dual college campus with the implementation of the new “Mechatronics Akademie” at Volkswagen.

“Mechatronics is a combination of the mechanical, computing, and electronics, along with control systems and networking, in a design that is useful to manufacturing. In the school, students get to experience both college and high school classes to become not only good students, but good workers too.” said Mrs. Deb Weiss, one of the two teachers that teaches at the Volkswagen Akademie.

The new Akademie was unveiled this year and 26 students opted for the challenge of the new school which is located at the Volkswagen Automotive plant on Bonny Oaks Drive.

“Everything we do, from assembling robots to operating different equipment, we are all focusing our work towards engineering, which is very exciting for me.” said junior participant, Blake DeYoung, who plans on becoming an engineer through the Mechatronics Akademie program.

Central juniors,Joseph Miller, Blake DeYoung, Matthew O’Neil, Michael Tudor, and Josh Young, and Briana Tiddle , were all selected to participate in the program this school year.

“I heard about the program from Mrs. Jennifer Haverlah, the computer technical education teacher at Central. She showed us how to apply and we all attended a camp in June at Volkswagen,” stated DeYoung.

Students not only had to fill out the application for the school, but also had to take many Compass tests, which are a variety of college preparedness tests to help place students in the correct courses. On top of all of these tests, Central students had to compete against 43 other students who had also applied for the program.

“I was really nervous about taking the tests and applying, but I was really excited when I found out that I got in,” commented Tiddle.

Students take a variety of high school and college classes based from Chattanooga State Community College, such as Industrial Safety and Mathematics for Engineering Technology, throughout the day, and even agreed that the Industrial Safety Course was their favorite.

“My favorite part about our classes is we never have to go back and review older chapters like we did at Central. It is kind of like our responsibility to stay up to date on our assignments, but it gives us a lot of responsibility,” said O’Neil.

Teachers at the Akademie including Mrs. Deb Weiss and Mr. Caleb Bagby, thinks that the Volkswagen Akademie, which is a German term for academy or school, has a lot of growing to do, but thinks that this year the high school based program is off to a good start.

“I like it because the students get hands on experiences and that students get to experience both college and high school classes at the same time. Every student that attends the program and graduates is half way through the adult Volkswagen Academy, which actually trains you for the jobs here, and can stay and receive not only an associates degree, but a job at any Volkswagen site in the world,” added Weiss.

Students at the Volkswagen Akademie come to school everyday either by bus or car in their neon polos to show that they are not from different schools, but from the new Volkswagen Mechatronics Akademie.

“We want to let other Hamilton County Schools know that we are the Mechatronics Akademie, not from this school or that school, we want to be unique because we are so different,” commented Weiss.

“One day during class we got to operate a fork-lift. We have a lot of fun and we try not to break a lot of things,” recalled Miller, who also plans on being involved in engineering at Volkswagen one day.

The Akademie is looking forward to the upcoming school year and plan on continuing with the program as seniors.

“I like the freedom that we have and I feel like with the smaller classes we get to know our teacher and students more which is really exciting,” explained Young.

“Plus, on top of the cool classes, the food here is pretty good,” joked Tudor.

Students are able to eat at the Volkswagen Cafe, which boasts of offerings like hamburgers and chicken fingers, which is one of Central’s favorite parts of attending the Akademie.

The future of the Volkswagen Akademie is to grow and to hopefully have twice as many people attend next year.

“We want to grow the Akademie and hopefully see a bright future not only for the students, but for the Akademie as well,” added Weiss.