North Central Michigan College has expanded its academic programming with the addition of two new degrees available beginning in January: an Associate of Arts Concentration in Global Studies and an Associate of Applied Science in Mechatronics.

The college’s Global Studies program prepares students as civically engaged, culturally aware, and environmentally conscious citizens who understand and can respond to the complex, interconnected world issues of the 21st century. Graduates are prepared to transfer to bachelor’s degree completion programs in a variety of fields, including global or international studies, political science, pre-law, economics, or business.

North Central is the community college in Northern Michigan offering a Global Studies concentration at the associate degree level, improving the equity of access to globally-themed education, said Dean of Arts and Sciences Sara Glasgow.

“With the world itself a learning laboratory, I’m excited for students to collaborate with faculty and with each other to understand and address the issues that affect their lives,” Glasgow said. “Those issues cross fields and disciplines, and so that is the approach of the program: to bring together different perspectives on understanding how the global environment shapes us, and how we are able to shape it.”

Political Science Professor Scott LaDeur, who will co-teach Introduction to Global Studies with English and History Instructor Charles McCaffrey, said developing a broader sense of global perspectives is increasingly important to students’ professional success, particularly in an era of remote work.

 “Your coworkers, clients, and competitors are now global,” LaDeur said. “Developing a clearer understanding of multiple perspectives on diverse issues will be necessary for the workforce of the middle 21st century.”

Full-time students can complete the Associate of Arts Concentration in Global Studies in four semesters.

North Central’s other new degree, an Associate of Applied Science in Mechatronics, prepares students to become technicians in automated manufacturing facilities, especially those that leverage Industry 4.0 technologies. Application-based learning provides a basis for success in modern, highly automated manufacturing environments, with opportunities to earn industry-recognized certifications from the Smart Automation Certification Alliance (SACA), NOCTI, FANUC, and Rockwell Automation embedded throughout the curriculum.

Graduates can immediately begin careers as maintenance technicians, systems engineers, and plant facilities operators, or transfer to complete a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology or mechatronics.

Director of Manufacturing and Engineering Technology Jerry Brusher said the program will appeal to both high school graduates and established professionals who want to strengthen their skills to pursue new career opportunities.

“The Associate of Applied Science in Mechatronics is designed to enable graduates to build a career in engineering technology rather than simply land an initial job,” Brusher said. “Coursework features hands-on laboratory activities for students to gain an operational and application-based understanding of the material, while providing the theoretical background and critical-thinking skills that lay the foundation for ongoing professional growth.”

Full-time students can complete the Associate of Applied Science in Mechatronics in four semesters.

North Central’s winter registration is open now, with classes starting January 8, 2024.