A group of students from Hartford High School's Academy of Engineering and Green Technology recently toured Metropolitan District Commission facilities, learning from veteran staff members about engineering careers.
The April 28 tour began with a roundtable discussion on engineering and ended with a visit of Hartford's North Meadows Pump Station, where students learned about the city's flood-protection system.
In between, they toured MDC's operations building and its Central Equipment Maintenance Garage facilities, where Systems Maintenance Superintendent David Hartley gave them a detailed review of the garage staff's work and responsibilities.
Then, they stopped by Hartford-Brainard Airport, and the Aero Tech School, where they learned about aviation careers.
With each place they visited, students saw a professional work environment with hands-on experience designed to enlighten their career decisions.
CBIA's Education & Workforce Partnership works with member businesses, schools, and other groups statewide to strengthen the talent pipeline and encourage economic growth.
“The students were able to see so many interesting aspects of Hartford, and the types of careers available to them in their own city, if they work hard in school,” said program manager Dayl Walker.
“Several of the students who took the tour will be applying for the MDC summer program so this was a great opportunity for them to see the operations at MDC.”
The roundtable discussion, coordinated by MDC project manager Clarence Corbin, featured MDC employees James Sanchez and Ken McClary, as well as Rafael Martinez of Martinez Couch Associates, a consulting/engineering firm based in Rocky Hill.
The visit left a strong impression on the students.
"This trip was an experience that opened my eyes to what the water company is really all about,” said Jessica Brown, a junior at AEGT.
“It showed me that MDC does more than just put water in our pipes. We saw the man-made lever that protects Hartford from flooding. It made me think about what I want to do with my engineering degree.
“This trip was an innovative and intriguing way to open our minds about engineering."
Ja'lauria Allen was equally impressed.
"The MDC field trip was a great experience because they help out in our community. They've created man-made hills to keep our city from flooding,” she said.
”They taught me to stay open-minded because engineering is more than just mechanical or working with computers. It's about helping our community and helping out others."
'Tomorrow's Future Engineers'
The visit held a special meaning for the MDC's Corbin.
“As a graduate of Hartford High School and a current member of the school's advisory board, it was a pleasure to spend time with such a bright and talented group of students, and introduce them to all aspects of the MDC,” he said.
As the baby boomer generation retires, Connecticut's manufacturers are struggling to find the next generation of skilled workers for these well-paying careers.
CBIA's Education & Workforce Partnership works with public schools to steer students toward manufacturing careers, and showing them real-world experiences helps achieve that goal.
“From both a personal and professional standpoint, I have come to know the importance of mentorships and getting introduced to engineering and the water industry at an early age, and I am committed to developing tomorrow's future engineers,” Corbin said.
“Given the MDC's commitment to enhance and attract diversity in the field of engineering, it's rewarding to expose this group of students to the work we're doing here at the MDC.”