May 8, 2018 Melissa Lamar

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Tunxis Community College in Farmington recently hosted the Engineering Technology Challenge for 32 high school students from New Britain and Hartford.

Offered through the College of Technology’s Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing (RCNGM), the program ran over the course of six Saturdays this spring with the intent of fostering interest in careers in engineering and technology, and helping students experience what it’s like to attend college.

“This program engages inner city youth who not only learn about technology, but life-changing skills that they can use in their daily lives as well as in their careers,” said Karen Wosczyna-Birch, Ed.D., executive director of the RCNGM. “Over 1,000 students have participated in this program and they often report, even many years later that the team building, time management, communication and behavior awareness analysis using DISC assessment, have all been instrumental in their success in the classroom, in the workplace and in their personal lives.”

Students were challenged to design components and build a car that would travel fast and straight, which they raced down a hall during their last session at Tunxis. The exercise was created to reinforce the process of design, build, test and redesign.

The high school juniors and seniors were immersed in many hands-on activities that integrated professional skills, manufacturing, CAD design, 3-D printing, technical writing, and math, taught by several CT Community College faculty. During the sessions they modified Kelvin fuel cell car kits to create aerodynamic cars incorporating their own design principles, which they raced at the end of the program.

They had assignments with deadlines, and received stipends which were connected to their participation, attendance and other factors to help connect the experience to career-level work.

In its third year, the Engineering Technology Challenge program is funded through a National Science Foundation grant, and has been offered to several city high schools since its inception.

The Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing (RCNGM) is one of seven National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education Centers in the United States. The RCNGM 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 Ed.D., at 860.723.0608, or [email protected].

Tunxis Community College in Farmington is in the process of launching advanced manufacturing technology programs, coming in fall 2018. The college 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 the recipient of a $2.4 million National Science Foundation grant that established the College of Technology’s Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing, an NSF Center of Excellence. For more information on programs at Tunxis, call 860.773.1490, or visit