LaGRANGE — Walking into the new mechatronics lab at THINC College and Career Academy can be mind-blowing.
The lab features new work stations lined to simulate a business environment and equipment built by the new mechatronics instructor Joe Sumner.
From South Georgia, Sumner spent five years in the infantry division of the U.S. Army. While there, he trained in maintenance and culinary arts.
After three tours overseas, two in Iraq and one in Turkey, Sumner left military life and started working at a manufacturing company where he described the job as, “playing Tetris and cutting waste at the same time.”
While working, the hands-on instructor expanded his knowledge by attending Moultrie Technical College where he earned certifications in drafting and design, computer networking and industrial technology.
With his background and love of education, Sumner was soon promoted at the manufacturing company. Always a high achiever, he started working at Okefenokee Technical College where he taught industrial technology. Sumner then progressed to a full-time position teaching industrial technology and mechatronics at Moultrie Tech, where he was once a student.
While there, he started the dual enrollment program between the college and Tift High School.
“I started with four students,” he said. “After three years, we occupied three labs with an enrollment of 188 students.”
He has had a love of the creative and design process of technology since he was little, so Sumner was eager to apply, and eventually earn, the mechatronics instructor position at THINC. He was excited to begin working with the students and staff at THINC.
“I play the latest video games and watch the latest movies,” Sumner said. “I can’t wait to show them how learning can be applied to the gaming systems or recent movie releases. It helps provide motivation and positive interaction for students.”
Before the doors opened, Sumner was working to build lab equipment such as electronics, robotics, automation and pneumatic training equipment that will be used by students to provide real-world experience. By building the equipment he accomplished two things. The first is saving THINC $400,000. While that was not the sole factor, Sumner also notes, “We want it (the equipment) to be far better than any pre-packed equipment. It will be based on industry standards and what the community expects to see.”
Sumner and his wife, Molly, recently moved to LaGrange with their three furry family members, two pit bulls and a cat.
From a press release submitted by Troup County School System.