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Manufacturing and Engineering Careers Showcased During GCC Camp for Hamden High School Students


Rising ninth and tenth graders enrolled in the Hamden Engineering Careers Academy (HECA) got a taste of college life recently during a two-week summer camp at Gateway Community College (GCC). 

A collaboration between Hamden Public Schools, Gateway Community College, the New Haven Manufacturers Association, and the Hamden Economic Development Corporation (HEDC), the camp kicked off a rigorous program that will stretch into the school year and offers students the chance to work toward a college degree while in high school. HECA is a dual enrollment program for rising ninth and tenth graders, providing manufacturing workforce readiness skills while offering the chance for high school students to work toward an Associate of Science in Manufacturing Engineering degree, or a Manufacturing Certificate.

The Manufacturing and Engineering in the Real World summer camp, a first of its kind camp at GCC, provided an overview of different types of engineering and how they impact how people live. Activities reinforced the concepts. When learning about civil engineering, students worked collaboratively using dried spaghetti noodles, marshmallows, and eggs to build structures that would withstand earthquakes. Tying in with the topic of earthquakes in California - a magnitude 7.1 earthquake shook near Ridgecrest recently – the students performed research and budgeting.

The Town of Hamden is active in preparing young people for the job market; Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and Career Technical Education (CTE) link closely with the workforce needs of the community. Daniel Cocchiola, coordinator of Counseling and Career Pathways at Hamden Public Schools, noted that there is a gap between the available manufacturing jobs and the number of people properly trained to fill those openings. Cocchiola noted that State Rep. Mike D’Agostino, D-Hamden, was instrumental in securing a $500,000 grant that is supporting the educational plans.

Thirty-five students are enrolled in HECA, including 26 ninth graders and nine tenth graders. Building the academy involved two years of planning. Cocchiola said that the camp was designed to provide a baseline understanding of manufacturing and engineering.

Freshman Matt Myers said that he is interested in biomedical and railroad engineering and learned a great deal during the camp.

“This program has inspired me,” Matt said, adding that he decided on a career in engineering early because it interested him. “I always liked taking things apart and putting them back together.”

Freshman Mya Clouse said that she enjoyed the camp because each day provided new experiences involving science and math. Mya said that she particularly enjoyed a car building activity and being able to apply what she is learning to real life.

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