Published: 10/29/2019 9:45:18 PM
FITCHBURG — As part of the state’s STEM week observance, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito was at the Montachusett Regional Technical School recently to help open its new, state-of-the-art Automation, Robotics and Mechatronics (A.R.M.) lab and an advanced rapid fabrication lab.
The new facility was funded through a $500,000 grant, the largest in the school’s history, awarded recently by the Baker-Polito administration through its Massachusetts Skills Capital Grant initiative.
To date, Monty Tech has received four such grants, amounting to $1.5 million.
The new training center, which will be utilized by students in the electrical, engineering technology and CAD/computer and design programs, will provide students with the advanced skills needed to more into high-tech jobs in advanced manufacturing and automation.
Lt. Gov. Polito spoke to the audience about the state’s national leadership in the area of STEM and high-tech jobs. “We need a pipeline of talent who have the high-tech, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills to fill the jobs that our thriving state economy is creating. You need these skills to replicate what is going on in the industry right now,” she said.
Superintendent-Director Dr. Sheila M. Harrity said the lab was created in response to regional workforce needs, student interest, and the critical shortage of high-quality electronic system control and fabrication training programs in the area.
“These new training spaces are intended to replicate working and learning environments maintained by industry leaders in advanced manufacturing and automation, so that our students are better able to transition from school to work,” Dr. Harrity said.
“Not only are our high-school students benefiting from this brand-new equipment and technology. Monty Tech is also home to 1700 adults in training and retraining classes in our Continuing Education program. Many of this equipment is being utilized in their training programs as well,” she added.
Since 2016, Monty Tech has applied for and received four Massachusetts Skills Capital Grants, totaling nearly $1.5 million. “These grants have allowed us to improve instruction and training opportunities in seven of our 21 career programs, said Dr. Harrity “These grants are making a significant impact on North Central Massachusetts workforce.”
Paul Cormier, electrical teacher, said that the electrical field has changed dramatically over the years, and students need the skills to keep pace with the changes. “Our electrical trade is fast changing into a new career path that is not just traditional “light, heat and power” wiring. It’s far more involved and increasing complex. Today, it is entirely appropriate that this type of training and education occur at the high-school level, and I believe this A.R.M. lab is a great step forward for our students and instructors,” he said.
Last year, the space housing the new lab was renovated by students and teachers in the electrical program, with assistance from the plumbing department. A majority of the new equipment and curriculum was provided through the state grant.
According to Dean Lepkowski, electrical teacher, the new lab and equipment will bridge the gap between what is going on in their trade programs and industry today. “The new automation that we received will bridge the gap between the old industrial controls and the modern, high-tech controls technology. This (the lab) will provide our students with the missing piece — the training that will allow them to move into jobs as technicians, where they can go into industry and troubleshot and write code for high-tech control systems,” he said.
Following a ribbon-cutting ceremony, attendees toured the new lab and talked to students who demonstrated the new equipment.
Katy Whitaker is Monty Tech’s grant writer.