Government officials, representatives of potential employers and visiting educators were given a tour of the new pre-engineering and manufacturing technology shop during an open house on the East Brunswick Campus of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools.
Among those attending the event Feb. 18 were Assemblyman Craig J. Coughlin (D-Dist. 19) and Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios, as well as administrators from the Monmouth County and Ocean County vocational school districts.
MCVTS Superintendent of Schools Brian J. Loughlin thanked those in attendance for their support and expertise in the creation of the district’s newest career major. Some of those taking the tour had been part of an advisory committee created to help plan the advanced manufacturing major.
“Without your help, we couldn’t have done it,” Loughlin said. “We were investing a lot, and we needed assurance that we were leading kids to go down a career path on which they could support their families.”
Fourteen freshmen were admitted to the new career major, with plans to add a class each year until the full four-year program is complete.
Areas of concentration include mechanical technology, electronics, and pneumatics and hydraulics, with instruction on tools, materials, production process, machine operations, automated line operations, technical and quality control, engineering analysis, instrumentation, programmable logic controllers, process control, computer-aided design, computer-aided manufacturing, and robotics.
“We have built in the capacity to expand the program if need be,” Loughlin said, referring to the machine shop adjacent to the new shop, which could be renovated to add space.
Noting that the event was being held during Career and Technical Education Month, Rios said the new MCVTS curriculum “enables Middlesex County’s students to become part of a skilled and in-demand workforce.”
“Technology and the global economy, as well as shifting market forces, are changing the playing field in manufacturing,” he said. “We are doing business in a high-tech, creative, global economy. I believe that our citizens have the talent to design and build things here instead of shipping jobs overseas to China. We can do these jobs right here in America.”
“This is a Renaissance time for vocational schools,” Coughlin said. “Manufacturing is the backbone of American greatness; that is why it is so important to reinvigorate the manufacturing sector.”
Raymond Vaccari, director of the New Jersey Advanced Manufacturing Talent Network, a state-funded program at New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, said advanced manufacturing jobs are the “best opportunity for young people.”
Sean McDonald, MCVTS director of career and technical education, said the intent of the new major was to fill the “skills gap” created by rapid changes in technology and to give students the tools and equipment needed to learn how to solve problems in manufacturing careers.
Teacher Stephen Mercadante, with a degree in industrial engineering from NJIT and more than 30 years’ experience in the workforce, said his goal is to create an environment in which his students will be “excited” to learn how to operate the latest equipment and to “trouble-shoot” when things go wrong.
Students Jake Dantas of Avenel and Jordan Aurelio of Perth Amboy demonstrated a pneumatic instrumentation module, through which they could use compressed air to power various machines. Andrew Galvin of Old Bridge operated a solderless wiring device to create electrical circuits, and Lucy Beauchamps of Perth Amboy explained the shop’s safety training and procedures.
“This is my favorite class,” she said, adding that she had intended to major in culinary arts before becoming fascinated by a robotic arm during a tour of the new shop. She now hopes to work in medical manufacturing.
“These kids are doing great,” said Josh von der Heyde of Allendale Machinery in Upper Saddle River. “They’re all very engaged.”
Contact: Sean McDonald, director of career and technical education, (732) 257-3300, Ext. 1941