Push for high-tech manufacturing at technical schools

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH) – Ten million dollars in state bond money is giving students at Connecticut’s state technical high schools a big leg-up in the field of precision machining.

A ribbon cutting this morning officially opened the latest classroom at Bullard Havens Technical High School, but it is not just any room. It is a precision machining classroom where students will learn how to make machine parts. It’s the kind of skill for which lots of local employers are looking.

“Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky, or a lot of the smaller manufacturers,” said John Murphy, an education consultant to the Technical High School System. “It’s about precision machining.”

The equipment in the new classroom is all brand new. Robert Trefry, the chairperson of the Connecticut Technical High School Board, told the crowd at the ribbon cutting about how, a few years ago, he would look at the labels on some schools’ machines.

“I’ve seen an awful lot that were made in ‘Columbus 5-Ohio.’ and that means it was before zip codes,” said Trefry.

All the new equipment is thanks to $10 million in state bond money, which is being used to update machine shops in 13 of the state’s technical high schools, and bring back this 14th one. You see, Bullard Havens used to have a machine shop, but they got rid of it years ago because there was not enough demand from employers for graduates with machining skills.

Times have changed. Employers today are looking for students with skills to run high tech precision machines. In fact, outside of those particular employers, they have a certain kind of sign: “‘Skilled machinist wanted’,” explained Trefry. “Those signs are all over the state.”

One example is Excello Tool, a job shop in Milford. It frequently hires tech school graduates.

“We’re looking for skilled help,” explained Chris Lickteig of Excello Tool. “People with good backgrounds, good mechanical abilities, great aptitude, great ability to want to learn.”

“About 47 percent of our students who graduate go right on to work with a lot of the employers here today,” explained Murphy. “And $14, $15 an hour right out of high school is not a bad gig.”

That’s why the new room at Bullard Havens is not just any classroom. It’s where students will learn, literally, to build the future.

WTNH NEWS8 provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Also, you can now block any inappropriate user by simple selecting the drop down menu on the right of any comment and selection "Block User" from there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s