Tina Jenkins brings her talents to mechatronics
Clark alumna joins Clark’s faculty on track for tenure
In Tina Jenkins ’18, Clark College found an accomplished alumna to fill a tenure track faculty position in the mechatronics department. More importantly, she’s able to serve as a role model for current and incoming female and female-identifying students.
Jenkins said that there are more female and female-identifying students in the program now than when she studied at Clark. And she has a fond memory of having had a female instructor when she was a mechatronics student.
“It does give you encouragement to know there are other women out there who’ve done this and been successful,” she said.
Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary field involving skills needed for advanced manufacturing. Clark’s mechatronics program trains people for jobs in the semiconductor industry, aviation and many other advanced manufacturing fields with mechanical and electrical components.
Jenkins first attended Clark to earn an associate degree in 2015. She worked as a receptionist at a veterinary clinic but soon decided to go back to Clark to switch careers. She learned about mechatronics and took a tour of Clark’s program.
As someone who grew up in a “fix-it-yourself” family, Jenkins, a lifelong tinkerer, saw herself in the program. “This looks fun,” she thought.
“There are so many different parts—hydraulics or fluid powers, electronics, robotics, programming—and you have to get them all to work together,” she said.
Jenkins completed both of Clark’s mechatronics certifications: one in mechanical automation and instrumentation, and the other in control automation. She then went to work in the semi-conductor industry. She also continued her education at Eastern Washington University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in 2022. Later that spring, she started teaching mechatronics courses at Clark. Today, she is a full-time, tenure-track faculty member.
Jenkins said she enjoys helping people learn new skills and helping them work toward a new career. The satisfaction of teaching, she said, is not unlike the satisfaction of fixing a piece of equipment. Instead of having her own “aha!” moments, she gets to watch students have theirs.
Mechatronics students at Clark range from high school students participating in Running Start to adults who are looking toward a new career. Skilled workers are in high demand, with mechatronics technician jobs in the Vancouver, Wash., area increasing by an estimated 4% each year, with a median salary of $29.82 per hour, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Jenkins is providing encouragement to Clark students at all different stages in their lives, while serving as their educator and a role model.
Story by Lily Raff McCaulou