Governor Lamont Announces Tunxis Community College Will Be Home to Nation’s Only National Science Foundation Next Generation Manufacturing Technology Center
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that Tunxis Community College and the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) College of Technology have received a $7.5 million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to lead the nation’s only NSF National Center for Next Generation Manufacturing. The center will partner with leadership teams from Columbus State Community College in Ohio, College of the Canyons in California, Central Community College in Nebraska, and Indian River State College in Florida, as well as collaborators from education, industry, government and private and public organizations from throughout the United States to operationalize Industry 4.0 initiatives in Connecticut and throughout the nation.
“Advanced manufacturing is a major component of Connecticut’s economic future,” Governor Lamont said. “Making sure we have a workforce prepared to meet the needs of 21st century employers is a top priority for my administration, and this is a critical investment. Connecticut’s community colleges are a great, cost-effective way for those interested in finding a meaningful career to get top-quality training. The new center at Tunxis will be uniquely positioned to contribute to our workforce pipeline.”
The new center will be located at 21 Spring Lane, adjacent to Tunxis’s Farmington campus. The property, a 44,000 square foot former manufacturing facility, was purchased in 2020 using a combination of new state bond funding and repurposing funds from other projects. Renovation of the facility is expected to begin this summer.
“This is a big deal for Connecticut,” Dr. Jane Gates, interim president for CSCU, said. “The advanced manufacturing technology centers at our community colleges create transformational opportunities for the students they serve – with job placement rates above 90 percent and a rising demand for skilled manufacturing employees. This NSF investment is recognition of the value and effectiveness of our manufacturing programs.”
“Advanced manufacturing is an in-demand career opportunity,” Terrence Cheng, president-designate of CSCU, said. “The community colleges have state of the art facilities and equipment, and a world-class, experienced group of faculty members dedicated to student success. Anyone considering a career in manufacturing should come see what our community colleges have to offer. This NSF funding is sure to cement our colleges’ position as national leaders in advanced manufacturing.”
“Federal grants for skills-training programs play a critical role in ensuring that Connecticut businesses and workers continue to lead the world in high-tech manufacturing,” Senator Richard Blumenthal said. “Community colleges are critical to meeting the job training needs that I have heard from countless manufacturers. Connecticut has a long history as having one of the strongest and most dynamic skilled manufacturing workforces in the country. The Tunxis Advanced Manufacturing Center is a prime example of how our community colleges are keeping Connecticut’s most important resource – our workers – in the forefront of the jobs of the future.”
The center will provide educational models and professional development for high school and higher education faculty and create an online repository of resources that can be used for building seamless, stackable credential career pathways in advanced manufacturing. These models will incorporate industry credentials, micro-credentials, badging and certificates that will prepare students for lucrative jobs in advanced manufacturing.
The center will be guided by national leaders from other Advanced Technological Education Centers and projects, as well as by national equity associations to identify successful strategies for recruiting and retaining people from underrepresented communities in the next generation manufacturing workforce.
The center aims address the need for a pipeline of students pursuing careers in advanced manufacturing starting in high school. It will also strengthen career pathways that include robust degree programs at community colleges, that can then transfer, without loss of credit, to university programs.
“I am extremely proud of our dedicated leadership team composed of our College of Technology, our Advanced Manufacturing Centers, and our national partners, whose expertise and passion will drive the creation of the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Next Generation Manufacturing (NCNGM),” Dr. James Lombella, regional president, North-West Region, Connecticut Community Colleges, said. “We are very appreciative to NSF for this award as well for previous NSF funding that has created the infrastructure that will be the basis of the successful implementation of this center. The National Center for Next Generation Manufacturing will address not only current workforce needs, but also the workforce of the future that includes robotics, mechatronics, supply chain, co-bots, smart manufacturing, and machine learning. As a result, the NCNGM will create the cutting-edge workforce that will ensure that US manufacturing continues to be a global, competitive leader in all manufacturing sectors.”
“We are excited to have this national center at Tunxis, which will play an important role in helping colleges nationwide advance their manufacturing programs and meet the high demand for skilled workers,” Dr. Darryl Reome, Tunxis Community College campus CEO, said.
“The Connecticut Community Colleges’ College of Technology and the NSF funding that it has received, has enabled us to be a driver of advanced manufacturing education that prepares graduates for careers in the manufacturing,” Karen Wosczyna-Birch, executive director of the Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing, said. “The new National Center for Next Generation Manufacturing, with its national partners from multiple sectors of education, industry, government, and other stakeholders, will ensure that community colleges across the United States will prepare faculty and a diverse population of students for Industry 4.0. As a result, the NCNGM will ensure that equity and access is the cornerstone for creating the advanced manufacturing workforce critical for manufacturing companies in the U.S. to remain competitive.”
“We are so excited about this grant,” Cindy Bombard, president and CEO of Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce, said. “It will offer so many opportunities to students as well as assisting so many of our manufacturers in the central region who have been looking to fill open and new positions. This will help create a much-needed talent pipeline for our Connecticut manufacturers.”
Tunxis Community College expects to host a groundbreaking ceremony for the Spring Lane building in coming weeks.