August 2, 2018 Grantley Adams

Northwestern Connecticut Community College (NCCC) was awarded a grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the amount of $599,877 to support a project that will develop a pathway for middle school, high school, and community college students to enter advanced technology careers.

According to project developer and director Sharon Gusky, a professor at NCCC, “The project, Engaging Students from Classrooms and Camps to College and Advanced Technological Careers, was developed to answer Connecticut’s increasing need for a strong technical workforce. This project brings 7th-12th grade teachers, community college professors, students, and industry members together to produce a STEM pathway with a focus on technician education that begins in middle school and advances through high school, the community college, and into the workforce.”

Professor Gusky adds, “Industry-based externships and workshops will be offered for middle and high school teachers so they can better prepare their students to pursue college degrees and careers as technicians. Innovative technology and hands-on experiences for students in Torrington’s middle and high school classrooms will be developed and become part of the standard curriculum at the schools. And STEM summer camps focusing on manufacturing and engineering technology, biotechnology, and environmental science will be offered at NCCC beginning in 2019.”

In addition to Professor Gusky, the project is being co-directed by Professor Tara Jo Holmberg and Torrington School District Teachers Lisa Debany, Bridget Brody, and Christine Gamari.

“We are excited to embark on this National Science Foundation STEM initiative with Northwestern Connecticut Community College to help our students prepare for careers in the technology sector.  This program will help bridge the skills gap in the local workforce and create career pathways for students,” declared Interim Superintendent Susan M. Lubomski.

Industry partners include Altek Electronics, Jackson Labs, and Wittmann Battenfeld Inc.   Sabrina Beck, vice-president and co-owner of Altek Electronics, expressed her enthusiasm for the project. “As the labor pool tightens, employers need to find creative ways to bring in new talent. Altek Electronics is committed to supporting Northwestern’s efforts to engage middle and high school students in innovative STEM activities. Collaborating with NCCC and Torrington High School to train interested high school seniors in soldering technology has provided us with a new pool of talented employees. It would be difficult to grow our workforce and increase our revenue without this program.”

Jane Williams, NCCC’s Director of Workforce Development; NCCC’s STEM professors Douglas Hoffman, Douglas Mooney, and Crystal Wiggins, and Donna Labbe, grant writer for the Torrington School District, will also be working on the project.  Dr. Michael Rooke, President of Northwestern Connecticut Community College expressed his enthusiasm as well, “This initiative will build upon our commitment to partnering with our area high schools to strengthen the STEM pipeline of students for this region and the state and provide appropriately skilled and trained technicians for the local region.”

JoAnn Ryan, President of the Northwest Chamber of Commerce, who will be serving on the project’s advisory committee affirmed, “This outstanding project will help address the long-term need to prepare more students to excel in STEM fields and address STEM-based workforce needs of the community. The Chamber looks forward to participating in this project and to building stronger connections between educators and industry.”

For more information on this or other technology programs offered at NCCC, please contact Sharon Gusky at: