high school manufacturing program in connecticut

Goodwin’s ECAMP™ Preparing State High School Students for Futures in Manufacturing

It’s not often that students beg to attend class after their peers have already been dismissed. But students from the Hartford Public School system who participated in the inaugural cohort of Goodwin College’s Early College Advanced Manufacturing Pathway (ECAMP™) requested special permission to return to the College’s campus for extra class time despite their home district’s half day schedule early in June.

The inaugural cohort — comprising students from Hartford Public Schools — attended a custom-designed, 12-week program that began in March 2019 on campus at Goodwin’s 60,000-square-foot Business and Advanced Manufacturing Center. Students learned the fundamentals of manufacturing from experts in the manufacturing field, worked on real machines, and created projects from design through fabrication.

This fall, additional cohorts from districts throughout the state will be able to take advantage of the ECAMP™ model.

“Because of the flexible, fast-changing needs of the manufacturing sector and the state’s individual school districts, each program is tailored to meet the needs and desires of the partnering districts,” Craig Drezek, Assistant Superintendent of Goodwin College Magnet Schools and Educational Partnerships, said.

Along with new students from Hartford schools, Goodwin has created programs for New Hartford, Windsor, Wallingford, and Wethersfield. The towns of Bolton, Coventry, and Vernon have also jointly partnered with Goodwin to create a program that meets the shared needs of their students.

“As a district, we are always looking for ways to engage students who are interested in a less traditional path after graduation,” Dr. David Petrone, Superintendent of Coventry Public Schools, said. “This partnership will afford our students the opportunity to experience what a career in this field would entail and to earn college credits, all while still being enrolled as a student at our high school.”

Goodwin developed ECAMP™ to partner with local school districts, offering students both on- and off-site manufacturing training opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access. These middle and high school-aged students can take part in a flexible, comprehensive program to learn manufacturing skills, all while earning college credits towards a degree or certification resulting in good entry-level positions and pre-apprenticeships in the state’s growing manufacturing sector.

“They tell us all the time, ‘We need students to go into manufacturing,’” Dr. Joseph Macary, Superintendent of Vernon Public Schools, said. “This fits that need. It’s a no-brainer for us. It’s like the perfect storm of good things; we’re excited about it.”

The flexible, customizable nature of ECAMP™ means that each district can have a program designed for them to meet their specific needs. While some students are brought to Goodwin’s campus to learn on professional machines, other programs — like Windsor and Wallingford — have Goodwin faculty traveling out to districts to teach classes.

“In Windsor, we’re a little further along than most other high schools,” Matthew Dadona, Director of Information, Technology, and Career and Technical Education for Windsor Public Schools, said. “They’ve been able to really customize their program for us.”

Windsor has built up their technology and manufacturing education programs over the past eight years, Dadona said, and has the machines and advanced manufacturing training available in school to students. However, they didn’t have the credentials or industry expertise in fields like metrology that Goodwin could offer.

“I always wanted the kids to have the credentials behind the skills they’re learning,” Dadona said. “ECAMP™ offers the kids college credit for the courses they’re already learning, as well as the skills we can’t teach.”

In Wallingford, Goodwin is not only providing ECAMP™ for students to earn college credit and manufacturing skills, but giving professional development to Wallingford staff as well.

“Our staff is really excited about this. We have incredible teaching staff, but they don’t have the same level of experience,” Dr. Salvatore Menzo, Superintendent of Wallingford Public Schools, said. “We’ll be able to offer students a truly authentic experience within our district.”

CT Department of Labor recently approved Wallingford for an apprenticeship program, where students will be able to do paid internship hours with local businesses, Menzo said. Wallingford is looking to use their increased professional development to increase their number of manufacturing and technology courses.

“We see this as an opportunity for our graduates in Wallingford public schools to leave with a diploma that has incredible currency value,” Menzo said.

On-campus ECAMP™ classes are based out of Goodwin’s 60,000-square-foot Business and Advanced Manufacturing Center in East Hartford, connecting students and school districts to manufacturing equipment and professionals they would never be able to access on their own. And this fall, Goodwin is planning to open its new, dedicated 15,000-square-foot high school annex to support the ECAMP™ initiative and state manufacturing education.

“Today, Connecticut is on the threshold of a once-in-a-generation opportunity for manufacturing careers,” Cliff Thermer, Goodwin’s Assistant Vice President for Strategy and Business Development, said. “To help fill the demand for these high-skilled jobs and encourage the next generation of makers, we’re excited to offer students comprehensive, flexible learning opportunities through ECAMP™.”

The launch of ECAMP™ comes as the Connecticut State College and Universities (CSCU) system announced its plans to seek partnerships with private and technical schools to expand manufacturing training to meet the state’s growing workforce gap. The plan recognizes the need to look beyond the state institutions to solve the workforce training needs and Goodwin is collaborating with the State in support of those efforts.