An organization representing aerospace companies in Connecticut and southwestern Massachusetts has pledged over $180,000 to Asnuntuck Community College's Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center.

Aerospace Components Manufacturers, a nonprofit network of dozens of independent aerospace companies, said the gift honors 20 years of its close collaboration with Asnuntuck, which launched its high-tech manufacturing training program in 1998.

Asnuntuck advanced manufacturing center
Asnuntuck's advanced manufacturing technology center.

One of the biggest challenges to the aerospace industry is finding the talent to fill its many high-skill positions, says ACM executive director Paul Murphy.

That's why ACM began working with Asnuntuck to ensure technology center graduates have the skills required for work that becomes more sophisticated each year.

ACM and Asnuntuck officials developed a curriculum that includes courses on shop math, geometric dimensions and tolerances, blueprint reading, and other critical aspects of design and fabrication.

"We have been collaborating partners for 20 years and we are better because of each other," Murphy said.

"Asnuntuck stepped up to the plate, listened to ACM, and created the courses they have today as well as the certificate programs now in place."

Workforce Needs

Officials at the Enfield college reciprocated by renaming the technology center's CNC machine technology lab in honor of the aerospace group.

"By ensuring that more students gain access to careers in this exciting industry, these funds will aid in both the realization of individual educational and career goals as well as helping to satisfy a dramatically increasing demand for a technologically skilled workforce," Asnuntuck president James Lombella said.

He thanked the group on behalf of the college. He also lauded industry partners for helping prepare the next generation of analysts, engineers, inspectors, managers, machinists, and welders for a workforce that is always expanding and evolving.

Connecticut manufacturing's need for high-skilled workers has put increased pressure on the state's colleges, universities, and high schools to prepare students for advanced manufacturing positions and close the much-publicized skills gap.

This comes as several major aerospace and defense corporations expand operations to accommodate a wave of high-profile projects.

Murphy said ACM represents 108 companies in "Aerospace Alley," which extends from Stratford, home of Sikorsky, to Holyoke, Massachusetts.