Waterbury, Conn. – The first class of students enrolled in Naugatuck Community College’s new manufacturing program graduated this spring, ready to enter Connecticut’s workforce.
Fifty-four students graduated from the program, which trains and equips students with skills such as quality control, incoming inspection, metrology and assembly.
The program was established last year when NVCC built a state-of-the-art manufacturing center and gained 65 partnerships with area manufacturers placing students as interns. NVCC was one of three community colleges chosen for an $18 million grant to prepare workers for manufacturing job openings that demand skilled employees.
Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center Coordinator Joseph DeFeo said the program has been a great success so far, not only in providing hands-on education within a marketable industry, but in helping students find jobs upon graduation. Twenty-four students have already received firm job offers for employment, with more pending.
“Our goal is to educate students to immediately enter the workforce, and that’s what we’re doing,” DeFeo said. “What’s great about this program is students become manufacturing specialists, meaning they’ve learned specific skills that are useful within a manufacturing operation.”
The certificate program in manufacturing offers students hands-on learning experiences as inspectors, machine operators, CNC operators and more. Upon completion, certificate holders will possess the knowledge required in basic math, blueprint reading and manufacturing processes to work on the shop floor.
This year’s manufacturing students were awarded 113 certificates in level one and level two manufacturing. Defeo said some students will choose to work full-time after graduating, and others will work while continuing their education.
For student Darlene Blumenthal, who received her advanced manufacturing certificate, the program couldn’t have been more successful. Because of her new skills, she was hired by Prospect Machine Products this month.
“I was very happy to get a job so quickly,” Blumenthal said. “For me, this was a career change. I love working with machines, and paying close attention to detail, so I’m very excited about it.”
Smaller Manufacturers Association Executive Director Cyndi Zoldy said area manufacturers have been pleased with the success of NVCC’s manufacturing program so far. SMA partnered with the College last year to meet the demands for more skilled workers within manufacturing fields.
“We’re very happy with students the school has produced, and we’re excited about the progress continuing to strengthen our business community,” Zoldy said.
After seeing a successful first-year in Waterbury, NVCC officials are eyeing the Danbury area for a potential site to hold evening manufacturing classes.
“This is a program that will keep growing, based on the need within in the community for a skilled workforce within the manufacturing industry,” DeFeo said. “We hope to be able to expand within the Danbury area as soon as possible.”