A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held yesterday to officially open a new Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center at Derby High School. A first of its kind in Connecticut, this program not only provides students with an introduction to the advanced manufacturing skillset, it also offers college credits at Housatonic Community College (HCC).
Two years in the making, the program was developed by the Directors of Advanced Manufacturing at Housatonic and Asnuntuck Community College in collaboration with Derby Public Schools. Classes are taught by HCC professors, using equipment primarily funded by the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system. Together, this teamwork provides career opportunities that students might otherwise not have access to.
The program’s inaugural class began the fall 2018 semester with a cohort of 14 students, with 12 continuing on in the spring semester. After high school, the students can complete their certificate in Advanced Manufacturing at HCC, with potential to earn an Associate Degree.
“It is college. They are going to college, they are earning college credits and they have this great opportunity to start it at such an early age. They will be well advanced by the time they hit their early twenties,” said Joe Duhaime, Program Director at HCC.
Right now, thousands of well-paying manufacturing jobs are available in Connecticut, but there is a shortfall in trained workers. Additionally, as the defense industry expands, so do the job openings requiring the advanced manufacturing skillset.
“It’s not only economic progress. More than jobs, and the economy, what’s at stake is our national security,” said U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal. “This program is our future. It’s the American dream, it’s the way forward for an economy that needs to expand skills.”
Several other dignitaries attended the event, including US Representative Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut State Senator George Logan, Connecticut State Representatives Nicole Klarides-Ditria and Kara Rochelle, Derby Mayor Richard Dziekan.
“For young students, this program is a great head start, and for adult learners, it provides a career path with high earning potential,” said Dr. Paul Broadie, President of Housatonic Community College after the event. “We are proud to partner in this innovative approach that will become a model for future programs.”
“The future of the state knows no bounds,” said U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro. “This facility will train students for a new reality. They will be trained how to build for a living, but also how to build a new life.”