Build a skilled workforce with a registered apprenticeship program ... more
In high school, Felix Valdez was not entirely sure what direction he wanted to go after graduation. He was more interested in getting hands-on experience versus book knowledge. One of his instructors suggested he check out apprenticeship through the Alamance County Career Accelerator Program (CAP). Felix liked the idea of work-based learning and jump starting his career.
The path to apprenticeship led Felix to AKG of America and Alamance Community College. Felix started as a maintenance technician in AKG’s mechatronics apprenticeship program.
“The nice part about mechatronics is the variety,” says Valdez. “You have to know about everything from electronics to robotics. You become a jack of all trades. I really enjoy seeing my ideas come to life when I do project designs on the computer then implement those designs in my daily work.”
Valdez was recently promoted to manufacturing engineering technician where he works to improve processes used to run the facility.
“Apprenticeship is a great option for anyone who wants that hands-on experience,” adds Valdez. “Best of all, I don’t have student loans to repay.” The mechatronics apprenticeship is a 4-year program. Upon completion, the students in CAP earn an associate degree in either mechatronics engineering technology (like Felix), industrial systems technology, or computer-integrated machining. They also receive a nationally recognized Journeyworker’s certificate.
Valdez mentions how he enjoyed the classes he took at Alamance Community College on his apprenticeship path. “The instructors are amazing,” says Valdez. “They teach the coursework from a practical perspective and share their experiences in the field. The college has a variety of labs set up so students can see how things work in real life – everything from motor stands and instrumentation stands to test processes to electronics, to PLC labs for testing scenarios. When you go back to the plant, it's easy to put what you’ve learned into action.”
Valdez will complete his apprenticeship in August of 2022. He strongly recommends high school students consider apprenticeship as a career path.
“For anyone who wants to go into a hands-on field, apprenticeship is the program for them,” Valdez said.