Home Posts tagged Asnuntuck Community College
Daily News

ENFIELD, Conn. — Asnuntuck Community College (ACC) will hold an open house on campus, pending health guidelines, on Wednesday, Oct. 27.

Visitors are welcome to attend the open house anytime between 5 and 7 p.m. The event will feature information about ACC’s credit and credit-free opportunities, information sessions from Admissions and Financial Aid, socially distanced campus tours, as well as an information session and tours through the Advanced Manufacturing & Technology Center.  A resource fair will take place in Asnuntuck’s Tower Lobby area. The Follett Bookstore will be present with a table of information.

Everyone participating in the open house will be required to wear a mask. Visitors who attend will also receive a free T-shirt.

Winter 2021 and spring 2022 registration will open on Oct. 27. Visit www.asnuntuck.edu for information on how to register for courses.

Daily News

ENFIELD, Conn. — The fall semester at Asnuntuck Community College has begun, but there is still time to register for courses. The college is offering late-start courses that begin in September or October. Online and LRON (live/remote, hybrid, and online components) accelerated courses starting on Thursday, Sept. 9 include Art Appreciation, Art History I, Principles of Environmental Science, Business Ethics, Public Speaking, Exploring Word Processing/Desktop Publishing, Spreadsheet Applications, First Year Experience, and Intermediate Algebra.

Accelerated courses offered during the second half of the semester, with a start date of Thursday, Oct. 21 include Principles of Management, General Psychology II, Principles of Sociology, Legal Issues in Human Services, Music and Movement Children, General Psychology II, Administration and Supervision of Early Childhood Programs, and Self & Others (starting Saturday, Oct. 23).

Late-start courses are accelerated courses that meet for less time but cover the same material as in a traditional 15-week semester. Check with an advisor to make sure courses fulfill your program’s requirements.

Course descriptions can be found at asnuntuck.edu/courses-programs/course-descriptions. Visit www.asnuntuck.edu for information on course availability and how to apply and register.

Daily News

ENFIELD, Conn. — The town of Enfield’s Family Resource Center, a division of the Enfield Department of Social Services, has partnered with Asnuntuck Community College’s Early Childhood Education program. In a creative collaborative program, the two partners are providing an educational experience at the Enfield Public Schools’ Stowe Early Learning Center to preschool-aged children who are entering preschool and kindergarten in the fall, and who have had a limited preschool experience due to the pandemic.

The summer program, currently underway, is three weeks long, and there are three classes of 16 children each going to kindergarten and two classes of 10 children each going to preschool. Funding for the program has come from the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood and is partially staffed by teaching assistants who are Asnuntuck students or recent graduates.

Administrators from the college and the town of Enfield recently participated in a walk-through tour of the program. Led by Amy Morales, the Family Resource Center coordinator for Enfield who has been coordinating this summer initiative, the group had an opportunity to peek inside the classrooms to see the children in the program.

Participating in the visit were Enfield Assistant Superintendent of Schools Andy Longey, Assistant Town Manager Kasia Purciello, Director of Social Services Cindy Guerreri, Director of Early Childhood Initiatives Jaclyn Valley, Chief Academic Officer Michelle Middleton, and Partnership Coordinator Amy Witbro; as well as Asnuntuck CEO Michelle Coach, interim Dean of Academic Affairs Teresa Foley, and Professor and Career Programs Department Chair Carol LaLiberte.

Daily News

ENFIELD, Conn. — Are you looking for a career in the healthcare field? Asnuntuck Community College will hold a virtual Healthcare Career Open House on Wednesday, Aug. 18 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. The event will showcase a number of in-demand careers, various short-term certification programs, and expert instructors.

Participants can learn about healthcare-career certificates and potential SNAP scholarships. Fifteen different non-credit career programs are available at Asnuntuck, including medical billing and coding, certified inpatient coder, certified pharmacy technician, CNA/certified patient care technician, emergency medical technician, electrocardiogram technician, dental assistant, sterile processing technician, ophthalmic assistant, veterinary assistant, esthetician, nail technician, personal trainer, as well as cosmetology and medical interpreter programs.

The college has designed a state-of-the-art facility for its cosmetology program, where students are receiving hands-on cosmetology and hairdressing education.

Registration is not required. Visit asnuntuck.edu/courses-programs/healthcarepersonalservices to register. For more information regarding programs, call (860) 253-3010.

Daily News

ENFIELD, Conn. — Asnuntuck Community College will hold two more Admissions & Financial Aid virtual information sessions this summer, on Wednesday, Aug. 4 at 3 p.m., and Thursday, Aug. 12 at 5 p.m.

Potential students need to attend only one of the sessions. Participants will receive information about the admissions and financial-aid process, as well as learn about the many resources and course offerings available at Asnuntuck. The 60-minute session will also include time for questions and answers. Click here to register for a session. Classes begin on Aug. 26 for the fall semester.

Daily News

ENFIELD, Conn. — Asnuntuck Community College (ACC) will hold a remote and on-campus Next Step Saturday on July 10. This event will be held both virtually and in person from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will help new and continuing students with answering questions about how to apply, advising to select courses, and addressing questions regarding financial aid and registering.

New and continuing students are invited to attend the event. Participants will also be able to learn about the college’s more than 50 academic programs, in addition to Asnuntuck’s advanced manufacturing program. ACC’s Continuing Education and Workforce Development Office will be available for those that would like to learn about non-credit certificate options.

Anyone who is interested in attending the online event but has not yet applied may complete the application (asnuntuck.edu/admissions/how-to-enroll) ahead of time to maximize their time during the event. To meet with an academic advisor during the event, schedule an appointment in advance by following the steps for new or continuing students at asnuntuck.edu/advising.

To learn more and to pre-register, visit asnuntuck.edu/nextstepsaturday. The college’s fall semester begins Thursday, Aug. 26.

Students do not need to wait until July 10 to enroll. Registration is now open for the fall semester, and students are encouraged to apply before the July 10 event.

PACT (Pledge to Advance Connecticut) funding will be available to those who qualify, if they apply and register by Thursday, July 15. Visit asnuntuck.edu/admissions/pact for information regarding this free college program.

Also on July 10, Griffin Health will be on campus from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., offering free Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines to anyone interested in participating.

Daily News

ENFIELD, Conn. — Asnuntuck Community College’s (ACC) classes of 2020 and 2021 will be celebrated on Thursday, May 27 at Dunkin’ Donuts Park in Hartford.

This will be the college’s 48th commencement ceremony and the first time the college will hold the ceremony at the home field of the Hartford Yard Goats. The ceremony will be a ticketed event. However, a livestream will be available on May 27 at 6 p.m. at asnuntuck.edu/accgradstream2021.

Online summer classes at Asnuntuck begin Wednesday, June 2, and the fall semester, with both online and on-campus courses, will begin on Thursday, Aug. 26. Visit asnuntuck.edu to learn more.

Daily News

ENFIELD, Conn. — Asnuntuck Community College’s foundation and Aerospace Components Manufacturers will host a golf tournament fundraiser on Tuesday, June 15. This will be the program’s 13th annual tournament and the first year the fundraiser will be held at Tunxis Country Club in Farmington, Conn.

Proceeds from the event will benefit to the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center at Asnuntuck, which features leading-edge technology and has educated more than 9,000 students since 1998.

Additional sponsors committed to the tournament include Air Industries Group/Sterling Engineering, Aerospace Alloys Inc., Aeroswiss, Advance Welding, Pilot Precision Products, Kaman Precision Products, Willington Nameplate, Accu-Rite Tool and Manufacturing Co. Inc., and Jarvis Surgical Inc.

Golfers will pay $150 for 18 holes of golf. The entry fee also includes a cart, goody bags, and two drink tickets. The day will also include a barbecue lunch and fountain drink, along with dinner and an ice cream sundae bar. Golfers will have a chance at door prizes, and awards will be presented to top golfers during the dinner portion of the evening.

Registration begins at 11:30 a.m. with tee-off at 1 p.m. Golfers will play with a ‘shamble,’ which is a modified scramble. This format has each golfer hit their tee shot, and the group picks the best one and plays their own ball from there. The best score on the hole is recorded, allowing everyone to feel like they contributed and not putting pressure on any one golfer.

Visit birdease.com/amtgolf to register and learn about sponsorship opportunities. For more information, contact event coordinator Joshua Ware at [email protected] or (203) 228-2768.

Daily News

ENFIELD, Conn. — Asnuntuck Community College will offer six- and eight-week online summer sessions beginning in June. Asnuntuck’s six-week session will run June 2 through July 14, while the eight-week session will begin June 2 and run through July 28. Medical, health, and manufacturing courses will begin on May 24, with most classes completed no later than July 19.

Students who are on summer break from their four-year institution should consider taking a course and then transferring the credits back to their institution. Prior to registering, students are advised to check with their home institution to determine whether the courses transfer. Course topics include many disciplines, including art, accounting, biology, business, chemistry, communications, early childhood, computer information systems technology, economics, English, history, human development, human services, manufacturing, medical assisting, philosophy, political science, psychology, and sociology.

Asnuntuck continues to offer admissions and financial-aid virtual information sessions to assist students interested in learning about the college’s affordable fall-semester opportunities. The fall semester begins on Aug. 26.

Upcoming sessions include Thursday, May 6 at 5 p.m.; Tuesday, May 18 at 3 p.m.; and Thursday, May 27 at 3 p.m. Potential students need to attend only one of the sessions. Participants will be able to learn about the admissions and financial-aid process during the 60-minute sessions. The sessions will include a question-and-answer time as well.

Register for the session and learn more about summer and fall options by visiting asnuntuck.edu/admissions/how-to-enroll. For information regarding academic advising, visit www.asnuntuck.edu/advising. To view the summer and fall course bulletins, visit asnuntuck.edu/moreinfo.

Financial aid may be available for those who qualify. E-mail Asnuntuck’s Financial Aid office at [email protected] for more information.

Visit asnuntuck.edu and click on the ‘make an appointment’ button to reach a specific department or make an appointment with a specific area.

Daily News

ENFIELD, Conn. — Asnuntuck Community College is joining other community colleges in the state in offering potential students a virtual way to learn about summer and fall offerings at the college.

Asnuntuck is offering multiple one-hour virtual information sessions to potential students and their parents. These small-group sessions include information regarding enrollment, registration process, and financial aid. Learn more about upcoming dates and register at asnuntuck.edu/admissions/how-to-enroll.

Asnuntuck will also participate in the inaugural Connecticut Community College Showcase. This open house and college-planning conference will take place on Thursday, April 1 in two sessions (9 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. and 3 to 6:20 p.m.) via Webex. The event will include presentations from all 12 Connecticut community colleges and will highlight the system’s various degree programs and four-year transfer opportunities, including guaranteed-admission options, free early college programming, financial aid and scholarships, student support services, student experiences, and more. Visit www.ct.edu/showcase to learn more and register for a session.

Manufacturing Special Coverage

Machine Learning

Mary Bidwell says hands-on training will always be critical, but the pandemic taught ACC about what can be accomplished remotely as well.

 

As pivots go, this one was pretty smooth, Mary Bidwell says.

But that’s fitting for an academic program built on precision.

It was almost a year ago — March 13, to be exact — when Asnuntuck Community College (ACC) sent everyone home, including students in its Advanced Manufacturing Technology program, which Bidwell serves as interim dean.

“We finished online through April and the end of May, and by the beginning of June, we were able to open back up,” she said, adding that students were able to finish their hands-on training in fields like welding and mechatronics on campus through the summer. “We were one of the first departments back on the ground.”

In the meantime, the program reinvented itself in some ways, turning to online content in ways professors and administrators hadn’t considered before, not only in classwork for the student body, but in community-focused courses for area workers seeking to boost their skills.

“We’ve pivoted well and created online content, we created hybrid models, we got students back in, and we’ve got good safety protocols in play — and we’re looking forward to getting even more students on the ground,” she told BusinessWest. “And now we have this whole portfolio of online opportunities we didn’t have before, and we’ve diversified what we can offer the community, which is great.”

Innovation and adaptation are not foreign concepts in the field of advanced manufacturing, or at ACC, which has become a robust collegiate pipeline into the manufacturing workforce.

The Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center at ACC has been around for almost a quarter-century, but it received a major overhaul four years ago with the opening of a 27,000-square-foot addition, more than doubling its space to about 50,000 square feet. It includes an 11,000-square-foot machining lab with 90 computerized numeric control (CNC) and manual machines, an additive-manufacturing lab equipped for both plastic and metal 3D printing, a metrology lab featuring computerized measuring machines, state-of-the-art computer labs — and a whole lot more.

But the center’s most impressive offering may be its partnerships with area manufacturers, who have guided ACC in crafting its certificate program as a way to get skilled workers in their doors quickly — typically at salaries starting around $50,000 or higher.

The program has created work opportunities for both young people and career changers, and addressed what has been a persistent lack of qualified employees these companies need to grow. Normally, advanced manufacturers are looking for people with three to five years of experience. But ACC students are interning during their second semester and being hired for jobs immediately after, at good salaries. The reason is that the curriculum is customized according to industry needs.

Companies can then build on that training, hiring certificate holders, further training them up, and often providing additional education opportunities along with that full-time paycheck.

“People are always thinking about four-year degrees, but if your pathway is through community college, your debt can be so much less,” Bidwell said. “That’s such an opportunity: to start a career and have someone else pay for it.”

Even though the pandemic has temporarily slowed demand for workers at some companies, Bidwell and her team — and the industry in general — believe that’s not likely to continue, especially with an aging workforce in many corners.

“You still hear about the silver tsunami,” she said. “We need to have people ready when they’re needed.”

 

Working Through It

The pandemic has slowed the pace of business in industries like aerospace and at regional anchor companies like Sikorsky Aircraft, mainly due to supply-chain issues dating back to last spring, but students in all three of ACC’s advanced-manufacturing areas — welding, machining, and robotics/mechatronics — are finding jobs, Bidwell said.

“It seems like the staffing agencies have been a source lately that, at times in the past, we didn’t use as much because of our direct contacts,” she said. “But students are getting placed; they’re still going into companies we’ve always worked with.”

Enrollment in the program is about 60% what it usually is, she added. “We did lose students because people just don’t want to go online at all — they want to get back on the ground. Hopefully we’ll see that return for the fall and definitely next spring as vaccines roll out further.”

The numbers aren’t really a problem, though, because of capacity and social-distancing rules on campus. Students have engaged in a hybrid model this year, with some remote instruction and the necessary hands-on training on campus. As expanded vaccination hopefully leads to herd immunity, Bidwell is confident that those limits can be lifted next year, but the college will plan for all contingencies, including more hybrid learning.

The Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center at ACC has 50,000 square feet of space devoted to robotics and mechatronics, machining, and welding.

The Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center at ACC has 50,000 square feet of space devoted to robotics and mechatronics, machining, and welding.

“We’ve proven we can do it, and people have been successful,” she said, adding that the marketing message has been, “people wear their mask and social distance, and you don’t have to stop your education. We’re here for you, and jobs are waiting. As we head into summer and fall, people who want to go to school and get that education, they can.”

While student ages can range from 18 to 65, the average age at the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center during the Great Recession, when many more people were looking to switch careers, was around 45. Today, it’s under 30, but no matter the age, the idea is to equip students with a strong foundation from which they can grow into any number of careers.

That foundation begins with a hands-on approach to learning the machinery and techniques, from 3D printers, lathes, and surface grinders to welding and robotics labs — a healthy mix of manual and CNC machines.

Mary Bidwell with one of the center’s 3-D printers.

Mary Bidwell with one of the center’s 3-D printers.

Even in a healthy economy, the program still attracts a good number of mid-life career changers who see opportunities they don’t have in their current jobs. Meanwhile, high-school students can take classes at ACC to gain manufacturing credits before they enroll, and a second-chance program gives incarcerated individuals hands-on experience to secure employment once they’re eligible for parole.

It all adds up to a manufacturing resource, and an economic driver, that has attracted plenty of public funding from the state and from private foundations, such as the Gene Haas Foundation, which aims to build skills in the machining industry, and recently awarded the program a $15,000 grant to use for student scholarships for tuition and books.

 

Mind the Gaps

The program has also attracted attention of other kinds. The center was recently featured in the new book Workforce Education: A New Roadmap, written by MIT Professors William Bonvillian and Sanjay Sarma. The book explores the gaps and problems in the U.S. workforce education system, while also spotlighting how programs, including ACC’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology program, help to mitigate deficiencies across the country to build a stronger workforce.

“We spent time visiting and learning about apprenticeship programs, about new employer training programs, and visiting lots of community colleges,” Bonvillian said. “We found that our community colleges are our critical, not-so-secret weapon in educating our workforce, so we spent time at many.”

While the two were researching programs, they learned from an MIT friend, who grew up in Enfield, about Asnuntuck’s program, and Bonvillian set up a visit to the college.

“I was very impressed by the programs they presented in advanced-manufacturing skills that reached not only community-college students, but students from area high schools and incumbent workers at area companies,” he said. “In the book, we called this the ‘trifecta’ — Asnuntuck was using its flexible programs, its year-round schedule, and its new advanced-manufacturing center with its up-to-date equipment to reach three groups: workers and high-school students, as well as more traditional community-college students.”

That outreach is a constant challenge, Bidwell said, noting that, while outdated perceptions about today’s manufacturing floors — which many older people believe are dirty and unsafe — are changing, they do persist, and work needs to be done to get young people interested.

“I think it’s better than it was, but we’re not there 100%,” she said of the perception problem, adding that many companies market themselves online with videos taken on their clean, high-tech floors. “We are getting a younger population than we did years ago, but we’re still going around the state, trying to educate as much as we can. Guidance counselors are a big piece in high school. We need guidance counselors talking up manufacturing, and they have to understand it themselves. We’ve definitely made strides in that.”

Educating parents about what these careers really entail is part of the process as well, she added.

ACC has had students on campus part-time in a hybrid model since the fall.

ACC has had students on campus part-time in a hybrid model since the fall.

“There’s a big push in high school now, but we want to get the middle schools, to get young people aware of manufacturing and create those career pathways. We’re looking at the inner cities, where there’s a lot of population, and the message is, ‘these are viable careers where you can sustain a family and have a good, livable wage.’”

Bonvillian believes Asnuntuck and similar programs can help satisfy the demand for educating a workforce that has been impacted this past year, and not just in manufacturing.

“The COVID crisis is hitting hard at some important sectors like retail and hospitality, and workers there may well need to find new work,” he said. “The U.S. needs to prioritize training more workers more quickly than the country’s current disconnected approach to workforce education allows.”

 

Opportunity Awaits

The connection that First Lady Jill Biden has to community colleges — and her advocacy for them — is important, too, in changing perceptions and helping people understand college and career opportunities they might not have considered, Bidwell said.

“We want more people to take advantage of all that community colleges have available. We see it in manufacturing, but also IT — there’s a big need for IT professionals, and for healthcare professionals.”

And she doesn’t expect any dip in opportunity for students — young or older — who want to explore the modern manufacturing world.

“There’s really a lot of energy in Connecticut, and in Western Mass., right over the border,” Bidwell said. “The plan is to get out of this [pandemic] and keep growing, and be ready for the demand when things turn around.”

 

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Daily News

ENFIELD, Conn. — Asnuntuck Community College announced that, for the 14th year, the college has earned the 2021-22 Military Friendly School designation.

Institutions earning this designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey. More than 1,200 schools participated in the 2021-22 survey, with 747 earning the designation.

“This designation confirms that we are providing our student veterans with valuable services as they continue their education. We appreciate the sacrifices these students and their families have given to our country,” said James Lombella, North-West regional president of the Connecticut Community College System. “I am proud to support ACC’s Veteran Oasis Center on campus. This center provides our veterans with a space to connect with their peers and find specialized services and programs to support their academic success.”

Michelle Coach, CEO of Asnuntuck Community College, added that “we are honored that our active-duty students and veterans choose Asnuntuck for their education. These individuals have served our nation, and we are committed to providing them a supportive and enriching educational environment. Our Veteran’s Oasis provides them with a location to work and spend time with fellow military members and veterans. We are proud to attain the 2021-22 Military Friendly School designation for the 14th year.”

Asnuntuck has had nearly 300 active-duty and/or veteran students enrolled during the last three years. The college offers a multitude of services to these students. Asnuntuck and other campuses in the North-West Region worked with Resilience Grows Here to each offer a “No Wrong Door” training at the campuses last year.

Asnuntuck, in partnership with Tunxis Community College, has done community outreach by sponsoring the Hartford Yard Goats Military Family of the Game for each of the baseball team’s home games.

“I’m pleased, once again, that we received Military Friendly status,” said Beth Egan, Asnuntuck’s veterans coordinator. “Our veteran students and active military are an important part of our Asnuntuck community. Anything we can do to ease the transition from boots to books, we strive to do.”

Daily News

ENFIELD, Conn. — The spring semester at Asnuntuck Community College has begun, but there is still time to register for courses. The college is offering late-start courses that begin in February or March. Online and LRON (live/remote and online components) accelerated courses include Art Appreciation, Art History II (students may take this course without having taken Art History I), Business Ethics, Elementary Algebra Foundations, Intermediate Algebra, Spreadsheet Applications and Database Management, First-year Experience, Principles of Statistics, and Children’s Literature.

Accelerated courses offered during the second half of the semester, with a start date of March 22, include Gangs and Families, Infant/Toddler Growth and Development, Literature and Composition, General Psychology I, Principles of Sociology, and Self & Others: Dynamics of Diversity.

Keep in mind that late-start courses are accelerated courses that meet for less time but cover the same material as in a traditional 15-week semester. Check with an advisor to make sure courses fulfill your program’s requirements.

Visit www.asnuntuck.edu for information on course availability and how to apply and register.

Daily News

ENFIELD, Conn. — The Asnuntuck Community College (ACC) Foundation received a $250 donation from local business group BNI (Business Network International) Western New England (Enfield) On-the-Border. BNI is a business networking and referral organization.

“Our chapter wants to invest in the future of our community and give back to those businesses and institutions who foster that growth,” said Gail Kulas, owner of Somers-based business Leading to Unlock, and the growth coordinator for BNI’s local On-the-Border chapter. “Asnuntuck exemplifies this. In December, we gave back to our community through three donations — the Enfield Food Shelf, the Network Against Domestic Abuse, and now the Asnuntuck Foundation. All three entities fulfill community needs in different ways.”

Michelle Coach Asnuntuck’s interim CEO, noted that “ACC is very appreciative of the generous donation from BNI. The students of ACC have had wonderful opportunities to attend BNI meetings to witness the inner workings of our local businesses. BNI is now helping us support the education of students financially.”

Added Keith Madore, the foundation’s executive director, “the ACC Foundation is pleased to have the support from our local BNI chapter. Through their generosity, we will be able to assist more students facing barriers to complete their education. Every contribution makes an impact.”

Daily News

ENFIELD, Conn. — Asnuntuck Community College (ACC) will hold a virtual Super Saturday event on Jan. 9. This event will take place online from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will help new and continuing students who have questions about how to apply, would like to speak to an advisor, or have questions regarding financial aid and registering. The college’s spring semester begins on Friday, Jan. 22.

New and continuing students are invited to attend the event. Participants will also be able to virtually meet with Asnuntuck’s Manufacturing department, as well as speak with staff from ACC’s Continuing Education and Workforce Development Office to learn about our non-credit certificate options.

Anyone who is interested in attending the online event, but has not yet applied, should complete the application ahead of time to maximize their time during the event.

Participants may pre-register at asnuntuck.edu/virtualsupersaturday if there is a specific department they plan to meet with. If seeking to meet with an advisor during the event, it is strongly encouraged to pre-register ahead of time at asnuntuck.edu/student-resources/casa to request an appointment.

Students do not need to wait until Jan. 9 to enroll. Registration is now open for the winter session, which starts on Dec. 22, and the spring semester. Visit asnuntuck.edu to apply and register.

Daily News

ENFIELD, Conn. — Asnuntuck Community College recently became the first American Welding Society (AWS) accredited test facility (ATF) in Connecticut. Students enrolled in Asnuntuck’s welding program will have an opportunity to earn certifications.

According to Richard Munroe, one of two certified instructors at Asnuntuck, the program establishes minimum requirements for test facilities, their personnel, and equipment to qualify for accreditation to test and qualify welders. AWS’ website explains that entrusting welder certification to ATF specialists makes good business sense for contractors and fabricators. Companies are increasingly realizing the shortcomings of self-qualification and are switching to AWS accredited test facilities to test and qualify their welders. ATFs help them save money, improve productivity, and reduce liability by entrusting their welder certification to experts.

The Asnuntuck Community College welding program began in 2004 at Windsor High School and was moved to the Asnuntuck campus in 2008. Now known as the welding and fabrication program, it has graduated approximately 1,000 students since its inception. The college has dedicated 10,000 square feet to welding instruction in a state-of-the-art facility on the Enfield campus, which includes 75 welding booths.

“I am so proud of this accomplishment and thankful to the staff for all the hard work they put into this process to achieve this certification,” said Mary Bidwell, interim dean of Advanced Manufacturing Technology.

Michelle Coach, Asnuntuck’s interim CEO, added that “we are proud of our instructors and staff. They have worked to achieve this accreditation and establish a superior level of quality. We are honored to be the only accredited test facility in Connecticut. They have proven to be leaders in the field of welding.”

Daily News

ENFIELD, Conn. — The fall semester may have already begun at Asnuntuck Community College, but there is still time to register for select courses. Late start allows students to register for accelerated courses with start dates in September and October. These online classes meet less often than a traditional 15-week semester but cover the same material.

Classes and dates include “Intro to Nutrition” “Principles of Environmental Science,” “Intro to Software Applications,” “Spreadsheet Applications,” “Composition,” “Music History & Appreciation I,” “General Psychology I,” and “Principles of Sociology” (all Sept. 9 to Dec. 15); “First Year Experience” (hybrid, Sept. 9 to Dec. 15); “Business Ethics” (Sept. 14 to Dec. 15); “Music and Movement for Children,” “Administration & Supervision of Early Childhood Programs,” and “Legal Issues in Human Services” (all Oct. 19 to Nov. 23); and “Self and Others: Dynamics of Diversity” (Oct. 24 to Dec. 5).

Students are encouraged to make sure courses fulfill their program’s requirements by using Degree Works or checking with an advisor. Course Descriptions can be found at asnuntuck.edu/courses-programs/course-descriptions. Students can find information on instruction methods at asnuntuck.edu/campus-reopening-info. To register, visit asnuntuck.edu/latestart.

Daily News

ENFIELD, Conn. — Asnuntuck Community College Accounting Professor Nicles Lefakis recently retired after 41 years of teaching at ACC.

Part of a two-person team in the early years, he and Esther Alaimo built an accounting program that boasted the highest percentage of students in the state’s community-college system. They also negotiated the first transfer agreements with four-year colleges that provided for all degree requirements to be transferred.

Lefakis was also key to development of the first accounting course specifically aimed at assisting small-business owners with their bookkeeping needs, again a model for the state’s community colleges.

“After 41 years, Nick Lefakis is the longest-serving full-time faculty member in Asnuntuck’s history,” said Teresa Foley, interim dean of Academics. “His dedication to Asnuntuck’s students and the community throughout the years has been steadfast and unprecedented. His great sense of humor and historical perspective are always appreciated by his colleagues and students alike. We are glad that Nick is not going far and will be back to teach part-time at Asnuntuck in the fall.”

Lefakis was a faculty leader at Asnuntuck, often elected by his peers to serve on committees related to personnel, curriculum and academic standards, and improving instruction. He was also selected by college management to serve on various committees related to accreditation, college management, and course transfer.

Always interested in helping the community, Lefakis and Alaimo brought the Internal Revenue Service’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) to Asnuntuck in the early 1980s and ran it for a number of years. Lefakis was key in helping long-time colleague Bill Searle recently get ACC to once again be the host for VITA in Enfield.

On the state level, Lefakis was deeply involved with the state Center for Teaching since its inception. Selected to the staff of the prestigious Barnes Seminar in its second year, he was selected as a staff member more often than any other person in the state.

Michelle Coach, Asnuntuck’s interim CEO, applauded Lefakis’ commitment to the college. “He has dedicated 41 years to Asnuntuck Community College in the Business department. We wish him the best and will not forget his words of wisdom, incredible memory of the past, and his witty sense of humor. We are thankful he will continue as an adjunct at the college.”

Daily News

ENFIELD, Conn. — Asnuntuck Community College has scheduled several virtual information sessions with the Admissions and Financial Aid departments during the summer.

The sessions will be held on Tuesday, June 30 at 5 p.m.; Monday, July 13 at 5 p.m.; Wednesday, July 22 at 3 p.m.; Tuesday, July 28 at 5 p.m.; and Thursday, Aug. 6 at 3 p.m. Prospective students need to attend only one of the sessions.

Participants will be able to learn about the admissions and financial-aid process. The June 30 and July 13 sessions will feature information regarding Connecticut’s community-college debt-free scholarship, Pledge to Advance Connecticut (PACT), during the 60-minute session. Students must apply and be registered for a full-time schedule of courses by July 15 to be eligible for PACT. It is free to apply to the college.

The sessions will also include time for questions and answers. To register for a session and learn how to register for classes, visit asnuntuck.edu/admissions/how-to-enroll. Registration for the fall semester is now open.

Daily News

ENFIELD, Conn. — Asnuntuck Community College will offer six- and eight-week online summer sessions. The six-week session will run from June 3 to July 14, while the eight-week session will run from June 3 to July 28. Registered medical-assisting classes will begin on May 26, with most classes completed by July 16.

Students from other institutions interested in transferring credits from these courses back to their home institution are advised to check with their institution prior to registering. Course topics include many disciplines, including art, accounting, biology, business, communications, early childhood, computer information systems technology, economics, English, history, human development, human services, medical assisting, philosophy, political science, psychology, and sociology.

Asnuntuck continues to offer admissions and financial-aid virtual information sessions to assist students interested in learning about the college’s affordable fall-semester opportunities. The semester begins on August 26.

Upcoming sessions include Tuesday, May 26 at 5 p.m. and Thursday, May 28 at 3 p.m. Potential students need only attend one of the sessions. Participants will be able to learn about admissions, the financial-aid process, and information regarding Pledge to Advance Connecticut (PACT) during the 60-minute sessions, which will also include question-and answer time.

Register for the session and learn more about summer and fall options by visiting asnuntuck.edu/admissions/how-to-enroll. For information regarding academic advising, visit www.asnuntuck.edu/advising.

COVID-19 Daily News

ENFIELD, Conn. — Asnuntuck Community College has donated 23 boxes of gloves (personal protective equipment, or PPE) to the Connecticut Department of Correction. In addition, the college has produced and donated 10 intubation boxes to Yale New Haven Health to provide support during the COVID-19 crisis.

The college thanked Asnuntuck Community College Director Emeritus Frank Gulluni, Pratt & Whitney, and aerospace components manufacturers for their support with the creation of thre PPE and intubation boxes. Asnuntuck, Tunxis, and Housatonic community colleges have completed and donated more than 180 face mask frames in the past week alone, bringing their total to 330 to date. Recipients include hospitals, front-line workers, and first responders.

Daily News

ENFIELD, Conn. — Asnuntuck Community College’s Alpha Lambda Zeta Chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society was recognized as being the Most Distinguished Chapter for the New England Region during a virtual awards ceremony held last weekend.

The chapter and its members were awarded other honors during its first-ever virtual ceremony. These awards included Distinguished College Project Award and Distinguished Honors in Action Project Award.

The chapter elected to do its Honors in Action project within a Politics of Identity theme. Working with various departments at the college, as well as outside agencies, including the Jordan Porco Foundation, the students concentrated on the issue of mental-health awareness. They also established an interactive exhibit on mental-health issues at Asnuntuck, with a digitized version, titled “Art|Mind,” available for those who could not make it to campus. The college project focused on getting information into the hands of students through campus brochures and during the college’s orientation.

Asnuntuck student Victoria Orifice was awarded first-place honors for being the Distinguished Chapter Officer.

“This group of men and women have the drive and determination that truly is deserving of the title Most Distinguished Chapter in New England,” said Michelle Coach, Asnuntuck’s interim CEO and Phi Theta Kappa New England regional coordinator. “They have dedicated themselves to working with the college community and sharing what they learned about mental-health awareness and our campus resources. The ACC family is quite proud of them.”

Education

Building a Pipeline

Joe Marcelino with some of the 90 devices on the machining floor of the center’s 2017 expansion

Joe Marcelino with some of the 90 devices on the machining floor of the center’s 2017 expansion.

With much of the manufacturing workforce starting to age out and a dearth of young people entering the field, companies have been struggling for some time to find the skilled employees they need to grow. One successful model changing the equation is the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center at Asnuntuck Community College, which is placing students with a one-year certificate to work in good-paying careers — while meeting area companies’ critical talent needs. It is, in short, a true win-win.

When Joe Marcelino spoke to a group of Hartford Public High School students recently, he came armed with some numbers — and a common-sense pitch.

Among the numbers was the starting salary for students who earn a one-year certificate at Asnuntuck Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center (AMTC): typically, in the $45,000 to $50,000 range, and sometimes higher.

The pitch involved the country’s student debt crisis.

“I stressed to them that the opportunity coming through our program is priceless because a lot of the manufacturers actually pay for their continued education,” said Marcelino, an instructor at the center. “So not only do you come out of our program with a decent income, but you have the opportunity to go to school at night without debt — and student debt really follows you.”

The main pitch, of course, is the job itself, and how the center has partnered with manufacturers — in both Connecticut and Massachusetts — to create work opportunities for both young people and career changers, and address what has been a persistent lack of qualified employees these companies need to grow.

“We can almost promise you a job coming out of our program,” Marcelino said, “while if you get a four-year degree in, say, English, you might not have a job coming out — but you’ll have all that debt.”

The Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center at ACC has been around for 20 years, but it received a major overhaul two years ago with the opening of a 27,000-square-foot addition, more than doubling its space. It includes an 11,000-square-foot machining lab with 90 computerized numeric control (CNC) and manual machines, an additive-manufacturing lab equipped for both plastic and metal 3D printing, a metrology lab featuring computerized measuring machines, and state-of-the-art computer labs — and a whole lot more.

“I stressed to them that the opportunity coming through our program is priceless because a lot of the manufacturers actually pay for their continued education.”

But the center’s most impressive offering may be those partnerships with area manufacturers, who have guided ACC in crafting the certificate program as a way to get skilled workers in their doors.

“With manufacturing booming in Connecticut again and all over the world, demand for skilled labor right now is really high,” Marcelino said during a recent tour of the facility with BusinessWest. “When I was in high school 25 years ago, a lot of the counselors and teachers were deterring us from getting into the trades. That’s partly why there’s such a shortage now in the industry.

“A lot of contracts are being signed by some of our largest manufacturers, like Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky, and Electric Boat,” he went on, “but because of what was happening 25 years ago, there’s a shortage now because a lot of people are leaving the industry and there’s nobody qualified to fill these positions.”

Normally, advanced manufacturers are looking for people with three to five years of experience. But ACC students are interning during their second semester and being hired for jobs immediately after, at good salaries. The reason is that the curriculum is customized according to industry needs.

Mary Bidwell

Mary Bidwell said the national conversation is changing around student debt and careers — like many in manufacturing — that don’t require massive loads of it.

And that foundation, he explained, is something companies can build on, hiring certificate holders, further training them up, and often providing additional education opportunities along with that full-time paycheck.

“A lot of the companies we partner with pay tuition reimbursement, so it’s a real win-win,” said Mary Bidwell, interim dean of the AMTC. “You can get a certificate, start working, and chip away at a degree.”

That makes sense at a time when exploding college debt has become a worrisome economic drain, and a national story.

“The conversations are changing,” she said. “You don’t need all that debt. You can do this and still get that engineering degree later; a great engineer still needs the hands-on training in how a part is made and what the machines can do. In fact, engineers come here to take classes.”

And that certificate doesn’t even need to result in a job on a manufacturing floor, she added, noting that some have used the training, and continued education, as a springboard into manufacturing sales, teaching, and management, to name a few pathways. “We give them a good, rounded foundation where they can get a career and then grow from there.”

A Different Floor

While perceptions are changing about today’s manufacturing floor, Bidwell said, there’s still some work to be done to get young people — and their parents, who grew up with different ideas — interested.

“A lot of parents, when they think of manufacturing, think of a dark, dingy, dirty environment, so when they hear their kids want to go into that, they say, ‘no, don’t do that.’ They haven’t seen manufacturing as it is today. It’s very clean and technology-driven. And from where you start to where you can advance is unbelievable.”

That’s the message ACC is sharing not only with parents, but with guidance counselors and teachers, some of whom are invited in during the summer to see the facility and learn about career opportunities. “It’s about educating the people who educate the students,” she explained.

Those efforts are working. While student ages can range from 18 to 65, the average age at the center during the Great Recession, when many more people were looking to switch careers, was around 45. Today, it’s 28.

The center’s mechatronics lab

The center’s mechatronics lab gives students experience in the growing world of robotics.

“We give them a great foundation to build upon,” Bidwell said, “and the pathway is there to do whatever they like.”

That foundation begins with a hands-on approach to learning the machinery and techniques — from 3D printers, lathes, and surface grinders to welding and robotics labs, Marcelino said. And it’s a healthy mix of manual and CNC machines.

“The companies tell us the students still need to know the old-school skills; they need that foundation in order to make the transition into the CNC world, which are machines you write a program for in a computer, and then set up the machine to run the part for you. You need to know both ways.

“There’s no such thing as close enough in this industry,” he added. “The parts have to be made right. Precision is precision. I like to call this a work-ready program because our job is to get them the skills to get them a job.”

Those skills include — actually, the center emphasizes — ‘soft skills,’ especially punctuality.

“We’re really high on attendance and punctuality because that’s what the employers say is the biggest issue they have,” he said. “The other big issue we’ve been encountering is cell phones. Cell phones are a big distraction. We don’t allow them in class or in the shop. Some employees don’t even want them in the building, so we implement that here.”

Those second-semester internship opportunities — two days a week, with the other three days spent back at Asnuntuck — are based partly on grades, but mostly on attendance.

“The employer gets to feel out the student, and the student gets to feel out the company, and they’re getting a real training in what they’ll be doing,” Marcelino said. “Ninety percent of the time, that ends in a job offer. So we’re doing a lot of the training for the companies, and that’s what the companies are looking for. When they hire off the streets, the employees don’t always get it.”

Even in a healthy economy, the AMTC still attracts a good number of mid-life career changers who see opportunities they don’t have in their current jobs. Meanwhile, high-school students can take classes at ACC to gain manufacturing credits before they enroll, and a second-chance program gives incarcerated individuals hands-on experience to secure employment once they’re eligible for parole.

It all adds up to a manufacturing resource — and, thus, an economic driver — that has attracted plenty of public funding from the state and from Aerospace Components Manufacturers, a regional nonprofit network of aerospace companies that has long supported the center’s mission, most recently with a $170,632 donation on May 15. The investment arrives, Marcelino said, because the results of the program are evident.

“Students aren’t going to learn everything, but they’re going to have that foundation they need to make an impact right away in the industry,” he explained. “They’re getting the basic skills. There are programs out there that specialize in this or specialize in that. But in our program, we’re giving them a little bit of everything.”

Demand Continues

From what he hears from companies that partner with ACC’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center, Marcelino doesn’t expect any dip in opportunity for students — young and old — who want to explore the modern manufacturing world.

“We can’t keep up with the demand employers have, which is a good problem to have,” he told BusinessWest. “We just need to keep getting the word out about the opportunities in manufacturing. People think, ‘manufacturing, oh, it’s dirty, oily, stinky,’ but times have changed. Technology has changed. And as technology changes, more doors open. The medical industry for machining is booming right now.”

That said, it’s not an easy job, although, for the right candidate, it is a rewarding one.

“They have to want to be here. It’s not for everybody, and you’ll get out of it what you put in,” he said. “I’m a firm believer that the program works, but you have to want it. But the ones that do, they take off. It’s phenomenal what they do.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

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