Meet David Campbell, a mechatronics instructor at Butler Tech. Campbell’s interview appears as part of a spotlight series on ACTE’s educational institution members (EIM).
High school students, juniors and seniors, in Butler Tech’s two-year programs receive career training in one of dozens of programs, alongside completion of their academic courses for graduation. Additionally, more than 50 industry credentials and free college credit are made available for students to earn during their Butler Tech high school experience. From health care and the arts to construction, manufacturing and transportation, Butler Tech provides a purpose for every passion.
Students in the mechatronics program can earn up to 60 semester hours of college credit through Ohio’s dual enrollment program, College Credit Plus. Students who successfully complete all of the coursework earn an associate degree in electro-mechanical engineering technology from Sinclair College.
David Campbell, Butler Tech, EIM
What do you do at a mechatronics instructor at Butler Tech?
I guide students through both secondary and postsecondary skill attainment. I like to think of myself as an extreme geek. My students learn skills in design; additive and subtractive manufacturing; building electro-mechanical devices; programming; and automation. We are fortunate to work in a 5,000 square-foot lab we refer to as the G.Y.M. (Grow Your Mind), a moniker we borrowed from a local industry partner.
Can you tell me a little about your upbringing?
I was always tinkering with electronics and mechanical gadgets — like VCRs or lawn mowers. More often than not, I was able to fix or modify the item. Of course, there were some awful failures as well.
Both of my parents were teachers. They always encouraged me to work as much as I wanted, and to learn as much as I could.
What was your education experience like? What did you study?
I attended a military-based, private high school in Indiana. After graduating from high school, I enlisted as a radar technician in the Ohio Air National Guard, where I served for 10 years. Working on a long-range radar really drove my curiosity into electro-mechanical systems.
I earned a bachelor of science in electro-mechanical engineering technology from Miami University. I haven’t pursued any additional degrees — only continuing education courses in Educational Leadership.
My education was vastly different than the public career and technical education system in which I teach, but there are a few aspects that remain perfectly aligned: a passion for learning and curiosity-driven education. I was a curious student who became somewhat complacent in school when I wasn’t challenged. But I had a few fabulous teachers who were very motivational — charismatic people to influence my work. My mother was also a great advocate and supporter for me during my education.
What barriers did you face in pursuit of higher learning?
I joined the military specifically for a tuition reimbursement program as my parents couldn’t afford to send me to university without borrowing student loans.
What led you to your field?
I found out about a CTE teaching position from a military advisor. He served on the program’s advisory committee and suggested I look into the opportunity. Both of my parents were teachers and the idea of becoming a teacher was very interesting to me. I earned my credentials in a 36-hour vocational education teacher educator program at Wright State University. Learning electronics and mechanics through the Air Force were instrumental in my progression.
How do you like working at Butler Tech?
I spent 22 of my 24 years in education at a satellite program or a comprehensive high school. These past two years at the Butler Tech Fairfield Township campus have been amazing. Every student is here by choice; they applied and interviewed and were admitted into their respective program. The students and staff have tremendous passion and focus on their career field.
Is there anything else about your life that you’d like to share?
I like to take risks, but I fail often — one of the best ways to learn!
Do you have any advice that you would offer to students who intend to pursue postsecondary education in CTE?
Find a program in which you are interested and dig as deeply into the content as you can. The connections and professional networks CTE programs offer will give each student a great start to an amazing career.