Mechatronics Program Just What Student Wanted

Two years ago, as he was applying for the mechatronics program at Virginia Peninsula Community College offered through the New Horizons Educations Center, Josh Carr knew little about it.

“I’ve always wanted to do some sort of hands-on engineering. I just didn’t know what it was called,” he said.

In that abbreviated time, he has earned more than a dozen industry certifications, the most of anyone who has come through the program, according to Rich Wilcox, the program head for mechatronics.

Mechatronics combines aspects of mechanical, electrical, electronic and software engineering, often using robotics and computer science, in manufacturing.

Carr, who graduated from Lafayette High School in Williamsburg this month, started the New Horizons mechatronics program in his junior year. He did it for two years, recently earning a Level II certificate.

“This year, he got the hardest certificate we have, which is a certified associate. We’ve only had three students get that certification,” Wilcox said.

Carr enjoys working with his hands, taking things apart or breaking them, and then putting them back together.

“You get to do all that here. Ninety percent of all the classes are lab so we’re always wiring something or we’re programming robots,” he said.

He didn’t know what to expect at the start of the program but soon fell in love with it.

“It turned out it’s exactly what I wanted to do for a career,” he said.

Eventually, he wants to earn a bachelor’s degree and maybe a master’s, but for now, he plans to enter the workforce. He enjoyed the mechatronics program because it allowed him to experience all types of engineering. However, his favorites are mechanical and electrical, so he wants to pursue a job in one of those areas.

In his free time, he races mountain bikes (and often trains by riding his road bike), so working in research and development for a major bike company would be his dream job.

He highly recommends the program and credits his success to his teachers, who have helped him immensely the past two years.

“Anybody who asks they might want to go into engineering, I’ve been telling them to come check this out,” he said. “You get to dip your toes into all of engineering. Mechatronics is a great stepping stone.”

Wilcox said Carr deserves the credit.

“He enjoys this,” Wilcox said. “If you have a student that enjoys this and give them a little direction, they pretty much do it on their own. You don’t have to sell it to them.”

For more information on VPCC’s mechatronics program, visit

For more information on VPCC, visit