November 14, 2017 Melissa Lamar

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Dr. James Lombella, President of Asnuntuck Community College and Interim President of Tunxis Community College, spoke at the plenary session recently at the American Association of Community Colleges and National Science Foundation’s joint 24th National ATE Principal Investigators Conference 2017 in Washington, D.C. during which CT Community College students and faculty received awards and presented at sessions focused on issues related to advanced technological education.

Dr. James Lombella, second from right, greets students and faculty during one of the conference showcases at the Regional Center For Next Generation Manufacturing booth, (L to R) John Birch, executive director of the College of Technology’s Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering Technologies Program; Maftuna Rakhimova, Manchester CC; Ronald Silva, Gateway CC; Lillian Orelup, Northwestern CT CC; Austin Ferguson, Northwestern CT CC; Elena Bolotova, Tunxis CC, and Dr. Karen Woczyna-Birch, director of the College of Technology and executive director of the Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing.

During the panel session “Community Colleges Build America’s Skilled Technical Workforce,” Dr. Lombella discussed the challenges, perceptions and strategies that have been implemented to attract Connecticut students and develop highly skilled workers, and the state’s success with attracting students through the College of Technology’s Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing.

“To remain competitive in Connecticut and globally, it is important that we change the perception of advanced manufacturing technology so that we can continue to interest students in these high-tech careers, and meet the demand for educated, highly skilled workers,” said Dr. Lombella, in later remarks.

During the conference, six Connecticut Community College students who are enrolled in the College of Technology received the “Advanced Technological Education Student Award for Excellence” awarded through a competitive application process, at an invitation-only breakfast. The students are listed alphabetically with their college and town of residence:

  • Elena Bolotova (East Berlin)- Tunxis Community College
  • Austin Ferguson (New Hartford)-Northwestern CT Community College
  • Maftuna Rakhimova (Glastonbury)-Manchester Community College
  • Lillian Orelup (Torrington)-Northwestern CT Community College
  • Ronald Silva (Cheshire)-Gateway Community College
  • Millie Ramirez (Palmer, MA)- Asnuntuck Community College

The award recipients also presented their research projects both at the Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing Center’s booth and student booths, participated in a pre-conference workshop panel on professional skills and problem-based learning, and in two presentations led by the Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing.

Tunxis professor Dr. Karen Woczyna-Birch, director of the College of Technology and executive director of the Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing, presented at a workshop entitled “Integrating Research and Professional Skills in the Community College Curriculum,” on the panel “Utilizing Additive Manufacturing at Your Institutions,” and with Wendy Robicheau, project manager for the College of Technology, on the panel “Integrating Professional Skills into Technology Curriculum.”

The Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing (RCNGM) is one of seven National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education Centers in the United States. It is led by the College of Technology at Tunxis Community College, a consortium of all 12 CT Community Colleges and eight public and private universities that was formed through CT legislation in 1995 to establish seamless pathways in engineering and technology. Among its goals are to bring together educators and industry, and to be responsive to workforce needs in Connecticut. It also provides seamless career pathways for students to earn certificates, associate of science and bachelor of science degrees in engineering and technology disciplines, with no loss of credit upon transfer. For more information on the College of Technology, contact Karen Wosczyna-Birch at 860.723.0608, or [email protected].

Located in Enfield, Asnuntuck Community College, recently opened a new, state-of-the-art 27,000 square-foot Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center which has enabled the college to expand its manufacturing technology programs and educate and train more students for jobs in manufacturing. The new Manufacturing Technology Center includes several state-of-the-art-technology labs, machinery, SMART Room classrooms, and various production and educational spaces for part- time/ full-time, adult continuing education, workforce retraining, as well as middle and high school students affiliated with Asnuntuck. These are among over 60 associate degrees and certificates the college offers. For more information on programs at Asnuntuck, call 860.253.3010 or visit

Tunxis Community College in Farmington offers over 60 associate degrees and certificates, including eight associate degrees with science, engineering and technology emphases, and certificates in lean manufacturing and computer aided design. Tunxis is also a recipient of a $2.4 million National Science Foundation grant that established the College of Technology’s Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing, a NSF Center of Excellence. For more information on programs at Tunxis, call 860.773.1490, or visit