MANCHESTER – The current state of manufacturing in the United States is “like a rebirth”, says Alex Tournaud, who has spent the past few years as an adjunct professor of precision manufacturing at Manchester Community College after a career in the industry. .
“We can now compete at world level thanks to our abilities,” Tournaud said on Wednesday.
“There should be a feeding frenzy right now” of people looking to get into manufacturing professions, he continued.
He strives to encourage this binge eating, both through his work with MCC students and through his involvement in Manchester High School’s pre-apprenticeship program, which encourages students to learn advanced manufacturing skills to prepare for jobs or higher education.
Tournaud sat on a table in an MHS workshop equipped with precision milling cutters, lathes and other equipment after giving half a dozen students a lesson in how to place blocks of metal to be cut at angles accurate.
Strangers toured the high school’s fabrication shops after a press conference with Governor Ned Lamont, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, State Representatives Jason Doucette and Jason Rojas, and others to celebrate a $390,000 grant $ from the state to strengthen the school’s manufacturing program. .
Doucette, a Democrat from Manchester, has been a leading agitator for increased support for manufacturing education in the city.
He said his involvement in the issue began more than 10 years ago as a member of a local committee, where he learned about the “needs of an advanced manufacturing workforce”.
When he heard about the number of jobs available, Doucette said he couldn’t believe it and started asking, “What can we do to move the needle?” »
After his 2018 election to the House seat, Doucette said, one of the first things he worked on was a bill to start a manufacturing program modeled after Derby High School.
“People in Manchester had already started working on that,” he said.
He thanked Lamont, in his role as chairman of the State Bond Commission, for helping secure approval for the $390,000 grant to purchase equipment for MHS.
Lamont said Connecticut’s manufacturing plants are “full and buzzing again,” adding that about 2,000 jobs have been added in the past few years.
“Shame on us,” the governor said, if businesses go elsewhere because the workforce here doesn’t have the necessary skills.
Speakers included Paul Lavoie, Connecticut’s manufacturing manager, who said Connecticut was the only state to have such a position.
“Manufacturing jobs are what make economies grow,” Lavoie said.
Bysiewicz said programs like MHS’s put students in a pipeline not just to a job “but to a well-paying career that doesn’t put them in too much debt.”
She would have been troubled, however, that the group of students around the table where Tournaud demonstrated techniques for cutting precise angles were all boys.
“We need more young women in STEM fields,” the lieutenant governor said, using the initials for science, technology, engineering and math.
Eric Larson, who heads the school’s technology education department, said during the tour that the department, which already includes at least one female teacher, has another one in the works. He said “connecting with kids” is a big part of attracting them to a subject.