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February 5, 2020 Melissa Lamar

Students Work on Projects That Address Real-World Challenges—

Tunxis Community College in Farmington hosted the Mechanical Engineering Technologies Program (MET2) in January for 20 students from the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities and College of Technology partner universities, who participated in training and began work on real-world technology projects.

Over 10 days during winter break, Tunxis students joined their peers from Gateway, Norwalk, Manchester, Middlesex and Naugatuck Valley Community Colleges, UConn, and Central Connecticut State University to learn about team building, leadership, 3D design, manufacturing processes, rapid prototyping and augmented virtual reality as they kicked off new projects.

Connecticut college students utilized virtual reality to visualize projects in 3D that were initially developed in a 2D setting during one of the program’s sessions of professional skill building.

The program provides real-world challenges and problems from industry partners which the self-managed teams of students use to explore and create projects. The teams will continue to meet and conduct research culminating in a professional level final report and presentation. Students receive a stipend for participation in the program in addition to their time spent working on the project during the spring semester.

The student teams will present their final project prototypes during a College of Technology Site Coordinator Meeting in May and at two national technology conferences.

Offered through the College of Technology’s Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing (RCNGM), the program is taught by CT Community College faculty and consultants, and designs its curriculum based on survey responses from CT manufacturers to address the skills gap in high-tech sectors, while strengthening career pathways for college students.

In its fifth year, the MET2 program is funded through a National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education grant. MET2 student teams have developed 30 projects over the years, three of which are in the process of being patented. The program won a national 2012 Innovative Program Award from the NSF at the High Impact Technology Exchange Conference.

The Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing (RCNGM) is one of seven National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education Centers in the United States. The RCNGM is led by the College of Technology at Tunxis Community College, a consortium of all 12 CT Community Colleges and eight public and private universities that was formed through CT legislation in 1995 to establish seamless pathways in engineering and technology. Among its goals are to bring together educators and industry, and to be responsive to workforce needs in Connecticut. It also provides seamless career pathways for students to earn certificates, associate of science and bachelor of science degrees in engineering and technology disciplines, with no loss of credit upon transfer. For more information on the College of Technology and the Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing, contact Karen Wosczyna-Birch, Ed.D., executive director, at 860.723.0608, or kwosczyna-birch@commnet.edu.

Tunxis Community College in Farmington offers more than 70 associate degrees and certificates, including 15 associate degrees with science, engineering and technology emphases. Tunxis is also the recipient of a $2.4 million National Science Foundation grant that established the College of Technology’s Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing, an NSF Center of Excellence. For more information on programs at Tunxis, call 860.773.1490, or visit tunxis.edu.