Mechatronics Degree Lays Firm Foundation for OFTC’s Joshua Thomas

Mechatronics student Joshua Thomas operating his capstone project, a pinball machine.
Mechatronics student Joshua Thomas operating his capstone project, a pinball machine.

When Joshua Thomas thought about his future he felt lost. But after taking an engineering class in high school he realized he finally found something he could picture himself doing as a career.

He started searching for colleges and programs online and found Oconee Fall Line Technical College’s (OFTC) Mechatronics program.

“I decided on OFTC because it had exactly what I wanted,” Thomas said. “It was close to where I live making it very convenient for me, and it was far less expensive than any of the other colleges I was looking at.”

He enrolled in the two-year program and started taking classes; the more he learned about the engineering and mechatronics fields, the more passionate he became. “My career goals are now rather ambitious,” Thomas shared. “I’m hoping to one day become an astronaut. NASA requires any astronaut to have one year of experience in any of the STEM fields, so the more experience I can gain while I am here, the more it will help me accomplish my dream.”

Thomas is months away from completing his program of study and graduating with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Mechatronics Technology and says his overall experience with the college has been very enjoyable.

“All the instructors at OFTC are very kind, and in my experience do what they can to ensure their students succeed in class,” Thomas said. “The price of the college is great – not too much for all the knowledge and experience you receive.”

One of the things Thomas has enjoyed most about his classes is the freedom he’s been given to learn and explore in a hands-on environment. “I’ve always thought the best way to learn something is not to be taught, but to figure it out yourself,” he said. “My instructors are always there to help, but I’ve been given the freedom to explore and work through problems and it has really made a difference for me.”

As a part of the mechatronics degree program, Thomas recently completed a capstone project where he was tasked with programming a pinball machine to run through all its actions.

“The machine has four steps, and I am using a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) to program the machine to run through this operation,” Thomas shared. “All of the wiring from the PLC to the machine and the programming I did myself.”

Thomas is expected to complete the mechatronics degree program this spring, and while his experience at OFTC has made it hard to say goodbye, he’s ready to embrace his next challenge.

“I feel certain that the skills I’ve obtained from my time at OFTC will help me be successful in the future,” he said. “Even if I never accomplish my goal of becoming an astronaut, what I’ve learned here I’ll be able to use to obtain a good paying job and support a family.”

“I’m sad this is my last semester at OFTC, but where there is sadness it’s because there was an immense amount of joy,” Thomas added. “I’m glad I had the opportunity to know my fellow classmates and mechatronics instructors – their constant support has helped make me into a harder worker and better person.”

For more info on OFTC’s Mechatronics Technology program, visit the college’s website at