Michael Maynard, of Victor, chose what he felt would be a sensible career after high school.
“I knew I could get a job in horticulture,” he said of his decision to enroll in the associate degree program in 2013 at Finger Lakes Community College.
Maynard was one class shy of a degree by 2015, but he never finished. Fast forward to June 2018, when he graduated from a different program — mechatronic technology.
While others in the horticulture field enjoy the work, Maynard decided that pruning trees and mulching didn’t make him happy.
“I was successful, but I was not passionate about the work I was doing,” he said. “I wanted to do so much more.”
When FLCC reached out to former students who needed just a few more credits to complete their degrees, Maynard couldn’t muster the enthusiasm.
Tim Rifenberg, custom training technical specialist, suggested that Maynard think about mechatronic technology, a discipline that combines the mechanical and electrical fundamentals common among high-tech manufacturers. The program was short, just 12 weeks, at the FLCC Victor Campus Center off state Route 251.
Maynard said he was skeptical, but he gave it a try after a federal grant covered his tuition.
“I had to Google what mechatronics was to find out what it meant,” he said. “I picked it up really fast. I like this hands-on type of stuff. It reignited some passion in me.”
Maynard landed a job several days before graduation at Optimax Systems, an optical manufacturer in Ontario, where he will join the quality inspection team as a metrologist. Metrology is the science of measurement, important with precision manufacturing.
Marcia Lynch, director of workforce development for FLCC, said Maynard is typical of students who start the class. They are unsure what it’s about at first, but then they find a career that seems tailor-made for them.
“Technology is changing the workplace,” Lynch said. “That might seem scary, but it also means opportunity. Michael wanted a hands-on career, but he just hadn’t found the right one. We were pleased to help him find the right fit.”
Maynard’s classmates include Jacob Case and Matthew LaPlant, of Canandaigua; Natalya Sherman, of Fishers; and Henry Kirui, of Rochester.
The next mechatronic technology class runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 24-Dec. 21 at FLCC Victor Campus Center. A mandatory orientation session is set for 9 a.m. on July 19. Tuition assistance is available for those who meet eligibility requirements. Registration is required at flcc.edu/pdce or (585) 785-1670.