Success for Pair of Mechatronics Students | Thomas Nelson Community College

Success for Pair of Mechatronics Students

Important Message

Public access to Thomas Nelson offices on campuses in Hampton and Williamsburg is restricted until the Commonwealth of Virginia enters Phase 3 of the Governor's Forward Virginia Blueprint. The College's telework environment will continue until further notice.
Student services are available online. Registration is now open online for summer and fall classes Visit for more information. Coronavirus (COVID-19) - CDC

05/28/2020 - 10:49am
September 26, 2019
Image for Success for Pair of Mechatronics Students

Elijah Skjoldager stays busy with the mechatronics program at Thomas Nelson and his work at Swisslog.

Dual enrollment is challenging, and so is having an apprenticeship while attending college. And just as Elijah Skjoldager and Natalie Hoskins made the most of their opportunities in high school, they are doing the same as Thomas Nelson students and apprentices at Swisslog, a company that develops automation solutions for companies.

Both graduated from high school in June, Skjoldager from Phoebus and Hoskins from Gloucester. They are paid for their time at Swisslog and to attend classes in Thomas Nelson’s mechatronics program. They were selected for the apprenticeships after Swisslog officials interviewed several students. One of Swisslog’s biggest clients is Walmart, and the former handles a lot of logistics for the latter.

“They’re essentially the backbone for Walmart infrastructure,” Hoskins said. “Most Walmart distribution facilities use Swisslog automation.”

Skjoldager is working on a conveyor project, handling the wiring and writing the codes to make it run.

“I’m more mechanical-minded, but I like this because it’s more challenging for me,” he said. “I can look at a mechanical machine and most of the time say, ‘This is how this works.’ Whereas this, I have to stop and work toward what does this do and what is going on.”

Hoskins also enjoys the work at Swisslog.

“We create simulated warehouse systems so we can work with and learn how Swisslog works,” she said. “I love how challenging it is in a material way. Even working with the PLCs (programmable logic controllers), it’s always very easy and intuitive to understand what’s going wrong.”

Their commitment to Swisslog is for two years of classes followed by two more in the company’s workforce. However, since both had a head start with dual enrollment, their time at Thomas Nelson might not last that long. So entering the workforce could come much sooner, and both have already thought about their future.

Skjoldager would like to work for SpaceX eventually.

“It used to be NASA, but NASA started steering away from space exploration and started focusing more on Earth,” he said. “I want to go to Mars. I want to live on Mars.”

Hoskins, meanwhile, is thinking of living on another continent – maybe Europe - not another planet. And she might not even have to change employers since Swisslog has offices all over the world.

“Swisslog would enable that if I ever wanted to do that,” she said.

They might not know where they are headed, but they know how they got to where they are now, and are thankful for the opportunities afforded them at Thomas Nelson.

“It’s 100 percent through this program how I found Swisslog,” said Hoskins, adding she learned about Thomas Nelson’s mechatronics program while a student at New Horizons her junior year of high school.

Skjoldager agreed.

“It’s because of the mechatronics program that I was able to hook up with Swisslog,” he said.


Natalie Hoskins could still work for Swisslog in another country.