Housatonic Community College (HCC) partnered with Bridgeport Public Schools this summer, hosting a four-week enrichment program just for middle school-aged boys and offering unique experiences with modern manufacturing.
Attendees, 38 in total, worked with CNC lathes and mills, 3-D printers and other equipment from the college’s advanced manufacturing program to plan, build and take finished products home such as helicopters and fidget spinners. The students were also provided with breakfast and lunch from Bridgeport Nutrition Centers in this free program for rising 7th-9th graders.
“I liked this program because I could use my brain to create stuff; there was a lot of creativity,” said Moshiur Miraj, age 14 entering 8th grade at Geraldine W. Johnson School. “My favorite part was the field trips, I’d never been in a factory before, and it was great to see how they make things we use in our daily lives.”
Students were selected for the free program using a highly rigorous application process involving essays and teacher recommendations. In all, 13 different schools from across the Bridgeport school district were represented in the program.
Taught by Housatonic Community College instructors, with mentors and tutors from Bridgeport Public Schools, the program is a smart investment in the manufacturing trade, inspiring future workers.
“The experiences this enrichment program provides help to build these young students’ skills, and can shape their career decisions,” said Dr. Paul Broadie, President of Housatonic Community College. “With Connecticut’s manufacturing industry experiencing a shortage of trained workers, this program can boost the next-generation workforce.”
On campus, the students engaged in a variety of activities such as engraving dog tags on prototrak vertical milling machines, coding their own mobile apps to experience the potential of computer science, and designing contraptions to protect a raw egg from a high fall.
The program also included field trips. The group visited Sikorsky Aircraft’s machining and final assembly areas to see how helicopters are assembled. They also witnessed Edgewell Personal Care’s manufacturing process beginning with sheet metal and ending with packaging and final assembly.
“This program was a true partnership between Housatonic Community College and Bridgeport Public Schools,” said John Cunningham, Bridgeport Public Schools Program Coordinator. “There are few academically aligned summer programs for middle school-age boys. I believe we accomplished our goal of exposing students early to the many possibilities available to them after high school graduation. We truly appreciate the generosity of our local funder in making this experience possible for our young men.”
“If I wasn’t in this program, I would be home playing video games and watching TV,” said Miraj. “Now I can definitely see myself working with machines in the future.”
Joshua Villanueva (age 13) holds up a dog tag he engraved on a prototrak vertical milling machine in HCC’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center.
Participants in the program visited manufacturing facilities at Edgewell Personal Care in Milford, CT.