Students benefiting from mechatronics class at Thinc Academy

Published 6:05 pm Monday, February 13, 2017

LaGRANGE – High school students who are currently taking mechatronics classes at Thinc Academy are being well-prepared and groomed for life after college. The job market for manufacturing will be filled with numerous opportunities due to the working partnership between Thinc Academy and LaGrange’s newest industry coming to town, Sentury Tire.

Sentury Tire is a Chinese manufacturer of tires for cars and aviation. The company is planning to build a new plant and North American headquarters here by the end of 2018. The new business investment will bring 1,100 new jobs centered around sales, marketing and corporate jobs.

LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton and President of the Development Authority of LaGrange, Scott Malone, recently took a trip to China where they visited Sentury Tire. Coming back from his trip, Thornton mentioned that Sentury was not just a clean company but that they used robotics within the facility. He noted students who attend Thinc Academy and pass their mechatronics courses at the college and career academy will have a good chance of landing a job in LaGrange, especially at Sentury when it opens.

Mechatronics is a blend of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, telecommunications engineering, systems engineering, computer control and information technology. Mechatronics is a design process to create more functional and adaptable products.

“With Thinc’s College and Career Academy, the reason we have this academy is because of employee partnerships,” said Kathy Carlisle, the chief executive officer at Thinc Academy. “Every program we have at Thinc we have employee partners supporting that and Sentury Tire will become one of those. Once they get into the region, we will work with them and they can look at our curriculum and they can see if our teaching aligns with their workforce needs.”

“Our goal here in the Thinc mechatronics department is to provide students with that real world, hands-on experience,” said Joe Sumner, the mechatronics teacher at Thinc Academy. “We’re utilizing real world, industrial revolution equipment, state-of-the-art technology and we’re doing that with the hope that when students leave our program, they have the fundamentals necessary that if they want to go straight into the workforce, maybe they want to go to a two-year college, or become a technician at a four-year university to become an engineer, they will have all the skills they need.”

The students that are taking mechatronics classes at Thinc Academy are all tenth-, eleventh- and twelfth-grade students from Troup County High School, LaGrange High School and Callaway High School. All the equipment the students use in class is industry-grade equipment and industry-grade robotics that can be found in local industries.

Sumner says that with these mechatronics courses, the students are getting a clear head start in developing the technical skills they’re going to need. He also mentions that they are focusing on teaching soft skills, teamwork, leadership and accountability.

“The specific skills related to opportunities that might be available at Sentury Tire is controls, automation, sensor technology and programming,” said Sumner. “This is what we are teaching our students in class with the understanding that these are already available and more opportunities are to come at Sentury Tire.”


Reach James Simpson II at 706-884-7311, ext. 2155, or by email at