Windham Public Schools hosted students, parents, business leaders and local dignitaries at the ribbon-cutting for the Windham Early College Opportunity Program’s (Windham ECO) Manufacturing Lab at Windham High School just before the end of school
Industry partners from General Dynamics/Electric Boat, Educational partners from Quinebaug Valley Community College, Windham Town Manager Jim Rivers, Economic Development Director Jim Bellano, Representative Susan Johnson and State Senator Mae Flexer joined Superintendent Patricia Garcia and Windham High School Interim Principal Vanessa Sosa to celebrate the completion of the manufacturing lab. It will be in full use for Windham ECO students in the fall of 2018.
The manufacturing lab will offer students hands-on advanced manufacturing skills training on traditional equipment like drill press and engraving machines plus state-of-the art manufacturing equipment such as a 3-D printer and a computer numerical control (CNC) router. Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, students and staff of the Windham-ECO program offered tours of the equipment at stations.
The manufacturing lab also includes 2l work stations, donated by Electric Boat, and loaded with software including Solid-works, CAB-works and other 3-D modeling software for creating prototypes. A grant through Siemens Academic Partnership Program provides additional state-of-the art manufacturing NX design software, a platform that is common in advanced manufacturing. facilities.
The Windham Early College Opportunity program at Windham High School is entering its fourth year with 70 students enrolled currently, and 25 students starting as freshmen in the fall. Students complete their high school diploma and work toward Associate Degrees in Manufacturing Principles or Lean Manufacturing & Supply Chain Management at no out-of-pocket cost to the student. Students earn their Associate Degree in four, five, or six years by taking college courses at both Quinebaug Valley Community College and college-level classes at Windham High School. The program does not impede a full high school experience, offering full access to athletics, music and other extracurricular activities.
The program is one of four established in Connecticut, supported by industry partners and local community colleges, to meet the increasing need for skilled manufacturing workers in Connecticut. Two Windham-ECO students have qualified to work as paid interns at Electric Boat in Groton this summer to put their manufacturing skills to use.