BCC, Sonoco Partner in Mechatronics Apprenticeship Program

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Community College (BCC) and Sonoco Plastics have entered into a partnership to encourage those interested in a career in mechatronics to apply for an apprenticeship at Sonoco. 
Apprentices will receive full tuition at BCC for its associate degree in mechatronics program, provided they complete the apprenticeship. 
Mechatronics is a growing field that combines technologies of mechanics and electronics. An interdisciplinary field of study, it encompasses sought-after skills in electro-mechanical systems, machine operation, computing, automation, robotics and advanced manufacturing. Mechatronics bridges traditional machine operation and 21st-century smart devices, positioning graduates for rewarding careers in fields such as automation and manufacturing. 
 "We are excited to launch this earn-while-you-learn opportunity. Students are paid employees, tuition is covered, college and hands-on industry training complement each other, and employment after graduation is secured," said Frank Schickor, BCC Dean of STEM and Allied Health. "We are grateful to Sonoco for joining this educational partnership." 
The apprenticeship at Sonoco, located in Chatham, NY, is a four- to five-year program with extensive on-the-job training and competency requirements for each year. Participants work 20 to 30 hours per week, with a flexible work schedule, while pursuing an associate of science degree in mechatronics degree at BCC. The degree may be earned in as little as two years.  
Core competencies in mechatronics include safety, reliability, proactive maintenance, equipment operation, tool usage, equipment troubleshooting and repair and fluency in a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). 
 "Growth and education can only come from a resource-rich environment where the application of those resources is controlled and encouraged. BCC and Sonoco have come together to provide the resources necessary and to encourage growth within the communities they serve," said Rick Sayers, Sonoco Plastics Engineering Manager. "Programs like this one move manufacturing forward and allow 21st-century manufacturing to create opportunities that will eventually create tomorrow's leaders and problem-solvers." 
José Colmenares, BCC Assistant Professor of Engineering, echoed those sentiments, stating, "Our partnership with Sonoco is an example of how local community colleges are poised to adapt to the needs of local industries, especially given the demographic challenges of our region as baby-boomers retire and the need for technical expertise in the workforce increases."  
The range of careers available at Sonoco include machine operator, mechanical/product designer, process engineer, mold bench technician, mechatronics technician, supply chain analyst and many more. 
To inquire about applying to the apprenticeship program, email Rick Sayers, Sonoco Plastics Engineering Manager, at rick.sayers@sonoco.com

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EforAll Showcase and Gala at Hot Plate Brewing Company

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Entrepreneurship for All Berkshire County will celebrate the nine graduates of the 2023 Spring Accelerator Program and award nearly $7,000 in seed capital at their Showcase and Gala at Hot Plate Brewing Company on Thursday, June 8 at 5:30pm.
Entrepreneurship for All Berkshire County (EforAll) began its seventh Accelerator in February 2023 and will celebrate the nine businesses who have completed this intensive program. They spent 12 weeks learning from experts on a variety of topics about business. With the help of 27 volunteer mentors, the entrepreneurs have developed their plans to build and sustain their businesses. 
The ceremony will feature pitches from nine graduates, a speech presented by one of the graduating cohort members, and distribution of the $7,000 prize pool. Prior to the ceremony, the graduates have been invited to table and showcase their businesses as well as sell goods between 5:30pm and 6:30pm. The ceremony will begin at 6:30pm. 
The event will begin at 5:30pm on Thursday, June 8.
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