Tunxis Community College in Farmington hosted the Mechanical Engineering Technologies Program (MET2) in January for 23 students from the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities and College of Technology partner universities, who participated in training and prepared to continue work on real-world technology projects they started last spring.
Over eight days during winter break, Tunxis students joined their peers from Manchester, Housatonic, Gateway, Quinebaug Valley, and Northwestern Connecticut Community Colleges, Central Connecticut State University, UConn, and University of Hartford, to learn about team building, leadership, 3-D design, and rapid prototyping as they prepared to kick off another semester of group research.
Offered through the College of Technology’s Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing (RCNGM), the program is taught by CT Community College faculty and consultants, and designs its curriculum based on survey responses from CT manufacturers to address the skills gap in high-tech sectors, while strengthening career pathways for college students.
This semester, the students reconvened in four groups to carry on the work they started last spring on an economically priced prosthetic arm; a bioreactive ankle brace, a project for the United States Geological Survey (USGS) that examines ground fracture networks, and a modular manufacturing project that will combine several high-tech machining applications.
“This training and teamwork prepares our students with the entrepreneurial, leadership, technical and communication skills they will need to be successful in STEM professions,” said Dr. James Lombella, Interim President of Tunxis Community College, who leads the College of Technology. “Over 95% of these students continue on to attain higher degrees, with many finding employment at companies and organizations such as United Technologies, NASA, the CIA and NSA.”
In the coming months, the teams will continue research for their projects and create prototypes, with regular meetings as a team and with the MET2 Program’s executive director to discuss the projects and the teams’ progress as a group. Each team also has a college faculty technical advisor who they meet with as needed.
The student teams will present their final project prototypes during a College of Technology Site Coordinator Meeting in May, and also at two national technology conferences.
In its fourth year, the MET2 program is funded through a National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education grant. MET2 student teams have developed 25 projects over the years, three of which are in the process of being patented. The program won a national 2012 Innovative Program Award from the NSF at the High Impact Technology Exchange Conference.
The Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing (RCNGM) is one of seven National Science Foundation 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 and the Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing, contact Karen Wosczyna-Birch, Ph.D., executive director, 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 tunxis.edu.
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