With 40 years of experience working for several Fortune 500 manufacturing companies in New York and Connecticut and his teaching experience, Joe DeFeo felt he was a good fit for a new Advanced Manufacturing Technology program at NVCC. Six years later, DeFeo, who is Program Director for NVCC’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center, was able to grow a program that began with two cohorts of 57 students, no reputation, and only a handful of industry partnerships into one of the State’s most successful manufacturing programs, one that today boasts a 100% placement rate and has helped hundreds of students, young and old, the chance to join an industry that currently has more job openings available than the skilled workforce it requires to sustain itself.
Since its inception in August, 2012, NVCC’s Advanced Manufacturing Machine Technology (AMTC) certificate program has graduated nearly 300 students and has more than 200 industry partners within the Greater Waterbury and Danbury areas, and the northwest corridor of the state. Students in the AMTC program earn the right to go on a paid internship. This is based on academic performance as well as demonstrating the soft skills needed to be a successful employee. The internship is a two-day-a-week position in a company of their choosing. Time is taken create a mutually-beneficial placement, ensuring the skills the student possesses and the companies’ needs match. The current internship placement rate in NVCC’s program is 100%. The rate at which students who gain full-time employment directly from their internships is 85%. These figures differ because, sometimes, students opt to work for a different company upon receiving their certificate, or the company where a student is placed does not have full-time positions available. NVCC faculty and staff work to help each student in the program get placed according to their needs and skillset upon program completion. While attending training, students also get the opportunity to obtain National Institute for Metal working Skills (NIMS) credentials. NIMS, is a nationally-recognized certification that proves the student knows their stuff. NIMS credentials help differentiate students as potential employees by adding value in the eyes of prospective employers. To date, more than 500 NIMS certificates have been issued to AMTC students from NVCC’s Waterbury and Danbury certificate programs.
Part of the program’s formula to success, says DeFeo, is rooted in NVCC’s close collaboration with industry partners who have identified gaps in their own workforce knowledge and skill set, and look to the Advanced Manufacturing program to provide specialized training within specific areas of manufacturing technology. NVCC works closely with industry to develop training programs that enable companies in different manufacturing industries to grow their workforce’s skill set. These programs also enable companies to train future employees to enter specific in-demand industries. Two such examples are in the area of Tool and Die and spring manufacturing technologies. Tool and die makers are a class of machinists in the manufacturing industries who make jigs, fixtures, dies, molds, machine tools, cutting tools, gauges, and other tools used in manufacturing processes. Manufacturers in the Greater Waterbury region have requested a Tool and Die type training program for many years and as a result, NVCC partnered with industry to design a new industry-specific training program within the Tool and Die technology area, metal stamping, in which a deep draw eyelet design class was developed to meet this critical industry need. Deep drawing is a sheet metal forming process in which a sheet metal blank is radially drawn into a forming die by the mechanical action of a punch. The process is considered "deep" drawing when the depth of the drawn part exceeds its diameter.
The Greater Waterbury region has hundreds of companies producing metal-stamped products, components such as, eyelets, enclosures, tubes, and cases used in myriad of industries from makeup companies to battery manufacturers. The Greater Waterbury area is the epicenter for the production of this type of product.
But deep draw are not the only technology-specific classes in demand. NVCC’s Advanced Manufacturing Program has created partnerships with several technical high schools across the state to offer other type in-demand training. Bristol Technical High School offers NVCC’s spring manufacturing technology classes, helping train the skilled workforce for the dozens of companies in the state that manufacture many different products. In addition, the greater Bristol region is the epicenter for spring manufacturing for the state, another large, in-demand industry. The Advanced Manufacturing program has also collaborated with the spring manufacturing industry developing a specialized training program for spring manufacturers, known as Four-slide that produces a clip spring-type product used by various industries.
At Kaynor Tech, classes such as blueprint reading, metrology, and math round out a curriculum that was developed so companies can send their employees for continuing education. A program launched in 2015 with Abbott Technical High School in Danbury appealed to companies in the Greater Danbury area and was funded by a $1.7 million Federal Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant. This highly successful program is undergoing planning so that it can transition to Western Connecticut State University where students can take advantage of a 3,000 square foot facility in a new Advanced Manufacturing Center that will run day and evening programs. Because manufacturers are having a challenging time finding workers with the right skill set, the daytime College Connections programs at West Conn will be geared towards high school juniors and seniors with a focus on garnering interest and raising awareness about the career opportunities in the State’s manufacturing industry. High school students enrolled in the program will take advanced manufacturing courses and acquire credit for classes taken over the course of two semesters per year with the hopes that they will apply to the NVCC and register for the full Advanced Manufacturing Certificate program. The goal of the program is to attract high school age students who want careers in the manufacturing industry, but not four-year college-bound.
But six years in these initiatives are just the beginning. “We have many challenges ahead, but the future looks extremely bright for people of varying ages who want a career in manufacturing. NVCC’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology program is addressing the current manufacturing ’Skills Gap,’ by preparing our students for the workforce, but also a new and exciting career in manufacturing.” said DeFeo
NVCC’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Program is well-positioned to provide the area’s manufacturing companies with graduates from the certificate program, as well as evening skills enhancement-training for the incumbent worker for years to come.