In 2016 Quinebaug Valley Community College teamed with Windham High School, creating the Windham Early College Opportunity (ECO) program, to provide students a chance to earn college credits in manufacturing disciplines. There were many questions along the way about curriculum, student engagement and funding sources. QVCC was creative in making this happen through College Career Pathways resources, the Windham Board of Education, and the help from the Eastern Workforce Investment Board (EWIB).
Beginning their freshman year, Windham High School students took several classes in advanced manufacturing at their school, earning 10 college credits in Manufacturing Math II, Blueprint Reading I, Benchwork and Computer Assisted Drawing. As juniors, in the summer of 2019, they attended QVCC and took Milling I and Lathe I, earning four more credits (paid for by the Windham Board of Education). Support from the Eastern Workforce Investment Board helped with a critical CNC Fundamentals course, which set students up to take one remaining class, Safety in the Workplace. This one-credit course completes their Level I certificate.
By the end of the fall 2020 semester, the students will have completed QVCC certificates in Machine Technology Level I and Advanced Manufacturing Machine Technology II. 30 credits will apply directly to an Associate Degree in Technology Studies for those who wish to continue their education. Director and Instructor Stephen LaPointe is actively seeking out opportunities to start their careers in manufacturing in the Windham area. “I’m impressed with their long-term commitment to completing this journey. The students have come together as a cohort and have relied on each other for support in so many ways. Transportation has been one of the biggest obstacles, yet they made it work. This shows me they have determination and will make great employees in the manufacturing world, which will benefit our community tremendously.”
There is a continuous pipeline of Windham High School students that have committed to this pathway to a successful career in manufacturing. In September, Windham ECO student, Karen De Los Santos Dominguez and Stephen LaPointe participated in a roundtable with Governor Lamont at Eastern Connecticut State University, hosted by ECSU President Elsa Nunez with Board of Higher Education President Mark Ojakian. The discussion was focused on coping with COVID in the current environment and how on-ground classes can continue to run for hands-on learning. Karen provided valuable insight into her positive on-ground experience at QVCC’s Danielson campus.
Learn more about QVCC’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center at qvcc.edu/manufacturing.