Goodwin University hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, October 25, for the opening of the Harrison Steans Advanced Manufacturing Center, which recently opened on University of Bridgeport’s campus. The event drew a crowd from both universities, along with local and state officials, who gathered to celebrate and learn more about this hub for advanced manufacturing education. The center began hosting its first cohort of welding students, taught by Goodwin University faculty, on UB’s campus in September for the 2023 fall semester.
The Harrison Steans Advanced Manufacturing Center will help fulfill a critical need within the state by providing hands-on training in a field where Connecticut depends on a skilled workforce. Among the distinguished guests were representatives of U.S. Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, who were helped secure Congressionally Directed Funding for the center’s programming.
Other speakers included UB President Danielle Wilken, Goodwin President Mark Scheinberg, CBIA President Chris DiPentima, Chief Manufacturing Officer for the state of CT Paul Lavoie, and Mr. George Bauer — one of the center’s primary benefactors. Mr. and Mrs. Bauer provided a generous gift to Goodwin University to name the Center after Mr. Bauer’s dear friend and colleague, Harrison Steans. Several members of the Steans family were present to honor the occasion.
Goodwin University faculty and students were deeply involved in the design and buildout of the Steans Center, partnering with University of Bridgeport’s Facilities department and project architects to create a state-of-the-art teaching facility. Dr. Cliff Thermer, Dean of Goodwin’s School of Business, Technology, and Advanced Manufacturing, shared his vision for the future of skilled workers. “With the cutting of this ribbon, we usher in a new era of possibilities and opportunities. This center is more than just machines and processes; it’s about inspiring excellence in all that we do. It is a testament to our dedication to investing in the future.” Thermer went on to describe the manufacturing center as “a catalyst for learning, innovation, and the realizations of dreams.”
Carrying on the idea of making dreams a reality, Goodwin University President Mark Scheinberg spoke of the center as the result of the vision and collaboration of not only Goodwin University and University of Bridgeport, but of all the people working behind the scenes to provide this opportunity for those looking to grow their skills and enter the field of manufacturing. “Today is a great day,” noted Scheinberg. “It is a wonderful way to see how the things we dream of sometimes come true.”
Dr. Sal Menzo, Superintendent of Goodwin University Magnet Schools, shared his goals for Goodwin’s Early College Advanced Manufacturing Pathway (ECAMP). “I am excited about the many opportunities Goodwin University’s manufacturing center at the University of Bridgeport will offer for students in Bridgeport and surrounding communities,” said Menzo. He continued, “From manufacturing and robotics to welding, the center will extend valuable learning experiences for students to gain skills that will increase their potential for post-high school success. This center is significant in our continued mission to engage with high school students and keep them focused on achieving their future aspirations.”
DiPentima, an alum of University of Bridgeport’s school of law, remarked that this project is “the most important workforce-related project happening in our state today.” He explained, “This is not the manufacturing center —this is the manufacturing epicenter. This is a huge opportunity to really propel our state.”
While the 48th smallest state in the country, Connecticut “sits among giants in manufacturing,” reflected Lavoie. He pointed out that Connecticut is number one in the country in aerospace parts manufacturing and number two in shipbuilding and repair. “86% of CT manufacturers report that a lack of a skilled workforce is prohibiting their growth,” said Lavoie. He further elaborated on the impact that manufacturing training has on the residents of Connecticut, describing that manufacturing jobs “change the trajectory of generations of families.” He emphasized that the manufacturing center will directly impact both families in the state and the many manufacturers who keep our state at the top of this important industry. “There is no better time in our state’s history to make sure we are doubling down on a well-skilled and well-trained workforce to support our 368 manufacturing companies,” said Lavoie.
Last to speak, George Bauer honored his dear friend, the late Harrison Steans, telling the audience of his life, his work, his philanthropy, and his moral compass. Together, the two men supported education programs for high school students, providing a college education for those who graduated. Mr. Bauer noted that they encountered a common obstacle in this work — finding that some successful high school graduates didn’t want to attend a traditional college; they wanted to work with their minds and their hands. “When I saw Goodwin’s manufacturing facilities, I told myself, ‘Harrison, they broke the code. This is what we’ve been dreaming of,'” said Mr. Bauer. “Harrison would be so pleased with what you’ve done here.”
To learn more about Goodwin University’s Bridgeport advanced manufacturing training center, visit www.goodwin.edu/welding.