Wallingford will offer new high school courses in manufacturing
Published: July 14, 2015 | Last Modified: July 14, 2015 09:43PM
By Eric Vo Record-Journal staff
WALLINGFORD — The school system is hoping to offer two new high school courses in manufacturing during the 2016-17 school year.
School and town officials met Tuesday with business leaders and representatives from state community colleges and universities to discuss courses that would help students land manufacturing jobs. The group also toured Lyman Hall and Sheehan high schools.
“The overarching goal is we need to keep manufacturing not only in Wallingford, but in Connecticut,” Menzo told the group. “We need to keep it and grow it.”
The group will reconvene to discuss curriculum for the new courses.
School and town officials also said they want to address the “stigma” they feel is associated with manufacturing work, said Economic Development Specialist Tim Ryan.
“One of the things that hovers over manufacturing is this stereotype that manufacturing is sweaty, noisy jobs,” Ryan said. “In reality, all manufacturing is not like that, especially advanced manufacturing.”
Lou Manzione, dean of the college of engineering, technology, and architecture at the University of Hartford, added that “young people don’t recognize the exciting careers in manufacturing.”
The lack of young people interested in manufacturing jobs is hurting state businesses, said Hubert Godin, coordinator of engineering science and technology studies at Middlesex Community College.
Menzo also said he wants the new courses to help solve town-specific issues. It’s a similar model to the one used by the University of Hartford, Manzione said.
“We try to address where we see there are needs and there are significant ones in Connecticut,” Manzione said.
Manzione said University of Hartford programs involve partnerships with companies like Pratt and Whitney. The businesses help the college identify needed skills.
The group also agreed there isn’t enough marketing of manufacturing programs around the state. Menzo suggested the local Parent Teacher Advisory Council could help promote the new Wallingford high school courses.
Jay Cei, Ulbrich Stainless Steel chief financial officer and a school board member, attended Tuesday’s discussion.
Cei said the company is looking into a certificate program that would allow students to work as interns or shadow an employee, with the hopes it will lead to a full-time job.
Ulbrich may also sponsor a program that would allow students to go to college full time and work at the company part time.
If they return to work at Ulbrich after graduating, Cei said, they could receive 50 percent student loan forgiveness.