St. Raymond Builds Mechatronics Program
You may be asking yourself, “what is Mechatronics”? A mechatronics engineer looks at the principles of mechanics, electronics, and computing and combines them to make simple and reliable systems. Three years ago, Mr. Ken Hawthorn joined the St. Raymond faculty to lead the Mechatronics program. With a background in Mechanical Engineering, Mr. Hawthorn was a consultant for small companies on prototype development, before coming to St. Raymond. He is currently serving on the Autodesk Project Ignite Teacher Advisory Council (TAC) which is a group of educators from across the United States who are working to bring maker-based education into classrooms.
The Mechatronics program at St. Raymond is based on Catholic values. Students learn how and why we build machines, but also explore the ethical question of whether or not we should build certain machines? They are learning how to code, wire micro-controllers and fabricate with digital design and prototype tools. The goal of Mechatronics at each grade level is to reinforce things being taught in the classroom in traditional subjects.
In October, St Raymond opened the Makerspace and Innovation Lab to further support the Mechatronics program. Students using the lab have access to supervised use of the 3D printer, vinyl cutter, laser cutter, soldering station, and various hand and power tools. Students come with a project idea, and with Mr. Hawthorn’s advice and supervision, learn to use the tools needed to complete the project. The objective of the Innovation Lab is to provide a space for students to build what they think should exist.
The Lab is open Tuesdays from 3-5pm, and interested students in 5th - 8th grade are welcome to explore and invent. The goal is to have the Makerspace and Innovation Lab open to all grade levels by the end of the school year.