April 6, 2018 Melissa Lamar

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Tunxis Community College professor Karen Wosczyna-Birch, Ed.D., received an award for postsecondary innovation and leadership during the Connecticut Technology Council’s Women of Innovation awards presentation on March 28 at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville.

She is one of 13 women who received awards in separate categories from among 50 finalists that included researchers, educators, engineers, managers, entrepreneurs and students accomplished in science, technology, engineering and math.

“I am pleased that Karen’s expertise and commitment are being recognized with this award,” said Dr. James Lombella, President of Asnuntuck Community College and Tunxis Community College. “She has been a tireless champion of STEM education throughout the state and the country. Her efforts have directly benefited countless students at Tunxis and beyond.”

Karen Wosczyna-Birch, Ed.D. (center), was presented the award by Kari Mull and Angela Throm, Ph.D., representatives from Medtronic, an event sponsor.

Wosczyna-Birch has provided leadership in engineering and technology education, and has been instrumental in creating nationally recognized pathway programs among high schools, community colleges and universities as state director of the CT College of Technology (COT), a consortium of all 12 CT Community Colleges and eight public and private universities that was formed through Connecticut legislation to establish seamless pathways in engineering and technology. She is also executive director and principal investigator of the COT’s Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing (RCNGM), one of seven National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education Centers in the United States. Since 2004, she has received over $25 million in funding from the NSF ATE including over $10 million to create and expand the Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing. 

Wosczyna-Birch’s knowledge of NSF funding has led to additional grants for the creation of high school outreach programs in engineering technologies and industry research projects for interdisciplinary and inter-institutional teams of community college and university students from COT member institutions, one of which won a national Innovative Program Award from the National Science Foundation at the High Impact Technology Exchange Conference.  

For the past five years, Wosczyna-Birch has participated on higher education and manufacturing committees for the New England Council and the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) led by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology to make legislators aware of the needs for education and workforce development in manufacturing. She has received numerous awards and grants and has been recognized for her accomplishments as a professor and for her passion for increasing the diversity of the engineering and technology population.  

Wosczyna-Birch is the Connecticut contact for White House Maker Movement initiatives. She also serves on many boards including the International Honor Society EPT, the National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers, National Visiting Committees for three NSF Centers, past president/board member for the National Association for Workforce Improvement, and Hartford High School’s Academy of Engineering and Green Technology.

Tunxis Community College in Farmington is in the process of launching advanced manufacturing technology programs, coming this fall. 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. For more information on the College of Technology and the Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing, contact Karen Wosczyna-Birch at 860.723.0608, or [email protected]. For more information on programs at Tunxis, call 860.773.1490, or visit tunxis.edu.