July 10--GROTON -- About two dozen seventh and eighth graders from the region got a first-hand look Thursday at how Electric Boat shipyard workers manufacture components for the nation's nuclear submarine force.
The students, participants in a new program called the Young Manufacturers Academy coordinated by the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board, wore yellow hardhats and green ear protection as they toured EB's mammoth machine shop, where robotic devices do much of the work.
They also got an overview of the sub-building process in EB's model room, where scaled replicas of the nation's attack and ballistic-missile submarines hold sway.
"The lives of the crew members aboard these ships depend on what we do," said Chris Lane, an EB employee for nearly four decades and a member of the company's public-affairs staff. "It's pretty exciting stuff."
Participants Charlie Ritter of Groton and Eli Doggart of East Lyme agreed, saying the EB tour was one of the highlights of the five-day program, which concludes Friday."I like manufacturing," said Doggart, who added that he expected to be making a race car tomorrow using a 3D printer.
The Young Manufacturers Academy, meant to encourage middle schoolers to begin exploring the benefits of manufacturing as a career, has introduced students to Lean Manufacturing concepts, computer-assisted design and other fundamentals.
"The program focuses on teamwork, collaboration, problem solving and communication -- critical 21st century skills that contribute to future workplace success," according to a program description. "Introducing a new generation of students to today's manufacturing and attracting them to manufacturing-related careers is critical to the future of the industry as well as regional economic prosperity."
The summer program, geared primarily toward students in Groton and New London, is based on a model developed at the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology in East Hartford that has been introduced in other parts of the state in the past. Funding originally came from a national grant awarded by the Motorola Solutions Foundation, and the workforce board helped implement the program in partnership with the Eastern Advanced Manufacturing Alliance that includes EB among its members.
Local funding also has been provided by People's United Community Foundation, Pfizer Community Grants Foundation, The Edward and Mary Lord Foundation, Liberty Bank Foundation, Charter Oak Federal Credit Union and the Dime Bank Foundation.
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