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Wiregrass Tech dual enrollment student is leading the way in Mechatronics

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Lauren Freeman is a high school student at Irwin County and is earning college credit through the Dual Enrollment program at Wiregrass Georgia Technical College.  Her field is Mechatronics and is interning this summer with Ace Electric in Valdosta;  Lauren is pictured with her classmates from Irwin County High School.  They are pictured with their trophies from the State TSA Conference this past spring.  (Front Row L-R): Robby Espano, Lauren Freeman, and Madeline Tuggle (2nd Row L-R): Trey Grimsley and Mark Anderson and Back Row – Erik Muse- Strickland, Ricky Harris, and Chris Rios Submitted photo Lauren Freeman is a high school student at Irwin County and is earning college credit through the Dual Enrollment program at Wiregrass Georgia Technical College. Her field is Mechatronics and is interning this summer with Ace Electric in Valdosta; Lauren is pictured with her classmates from Irwin County High School. They are pictured with their trophies from the State TSA Conference this past spring. (Front Row L-R): Robby Espano, Lauren Freeman, and Madeline Tuggle (2nd Row L-R): Trey Grimsley and Mark Anderson and Back Row – Erik Muse- Strickland, Ricky Harris, and Chris Rios

This high school junior from Irwin County, Georgia is known for two things: her Butternut Pound Cakes, and Robotics.  At the beginning of Lauren Freeman’s 11thgrade year, she decided to enroll in Wiregrass Georgia Technical College’s Dual Enrollment program where she could earn college credit while attending Irwin County High School.  Math and science are her two favorite subjects and after talking with David Pridgen, Irwin County High School Engineering/Technology Teacher, she decided to take the Basic Mechatronics Technician program.  Pridgen is credentialed to teach the college credit courses under a program known as Concurrent Dual Enrollment through Wiregrass Tech so any of his high school students who also meet Wiregrass admissions standards earn high school and college credit for the Mechatronics classes.  Mechatronics is a program that takes entry level skills from several fields of engineering like mechanical, electrical and computer engineering and introduces them to the student to build a base for future training in engineering.

In addition to taking mechatronics, Lauren is also taking college-level English and History through Wiregrass.  “I enjoy taking college classes while in high school. It’s helping me know exactly what to expect when I graduate, and the mechatronics classes have opened up so many opportunities for me.” Lauren’s interest in engineering and mechatronics became obvious quickly in the classroom.  “She was interested in how things work from the start, “shared Pridgen. “I noticed her potential for success when she took it on her own to learn more by staying after school to meet with myself and the Innotek personnel who come periodically to introduce me to the new trainers Wiregrass purchased.” Lauren shared that her love for mechatronics and engineering developed last school year when she took Auto Cad and learned how to operate the 3D printer.  “This is definitely my field of interest,” shared Lauren. “I’m talking with other girls to encourage them to come join me. Girls can do this too!” 

Lauren’s interest in Vex Robotics Competition grew and soon she found herself serving as Co-Captain on the Irwin High School Robotics team.  With the help of other students, she put in numerous hours tweaking the robot they built and won their first robotics tournament held at Lowndes High School in Valdosta.  This win allowed them to compete at the State Vex Tournament.  As President of the Technology Student Association (TSA), Lauren set her goals on the TSA competitions for the annual TSA State Conference.  Working on the Prepared Presentation event, she focused to win it and did.  She placed first in the state among other very qualified students.  Lauren will now represent Georgia at the National TSA Conference in Atlanta this month.  She was also involved with the high school’s TSA Chapter’s Leukemia Lymphoma Society’s Pennies for Patients campaign.  The students raised over $400 in pennies. 

Since she’s accomplished so much, Lauren will have a unique opportunity this summer to do a summer intern with Ace Electric in Valdosta.  The internship was made possible through a new partnership with Wiregrass Georgia Technical College and Ace Electric.  While interning Lauren will be involved with the electrical design on construction projects using AutoCAD and Revit 3D models that will help create complete electrical design documents and drawings for construction. She will work directly with Ace Electric’s Electrical Engineers and Designers.  She will assist in the startup and preconstruction of new projects by designing Prefabricated Electrical Assembly drawings that will be used in the business’ electrical prefabrication facility.  And, lastly Lauren will help design applications that can be used on construction sites for ordering Prefabricated materials for electrical projects.   Lauren’s future goals right now are to go into the mechatronics field and study either electrical or mechanical engineering.  She would one day like to teach at high school or college level engineering.

When Lauren isn’t working on robots or prepared presentations she helps tutor elementary and middle school students twice a week in math and is an active member of her church where she serves as the Kids’ Choir Director.  She’s also a member of the Irwin High School FFA, BETA Club, and Spanish Club.  In her spare time, she bakes her famous butternut pound cake, and gives them away; her way of encouraging others.

The Dual Enrollment Program at Wiregrass Tech recently received accreditation by the Accreditation Commission of the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP).  The college met NACEP’s rigorous national standards for program quality.  Wiregrass was the first college in Georgia to receive this national accreditation.   To learn more about the mechatronics program and Dual Enrollment at Wiregrass visit www.wiregrass.edu Fall Semester enrollment process has begun, classes start August 15, contact admissions for more information or visit the website. 

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