Grants awarded to five tech schools

By Mary deManbey

E.C. Goodwin Tech students (L-R) Malek Gahmi, Kaid Almontaser, and Yahya Kassem were among the 260 students who participated in the Connecticut Clean Trades Program at Central Connecticut State University.

Create compost from cafeteria leftovers that can then be used to grow food to be used by culinary students. Convert to single stream recycling. Use more natural light in classrooms and corridors. Conserve water by recycling grey (waste) water.

These are just some of the money saving, eco-friendly suggestions made by high school students who spent the year investigating their schools' water usage, air quality, waste handling and recycling methods, and energy consumption as part of a program designed to spark interest in green energy careers.

"I learned how we can save thousands of dollars by changing even the littlest things," said one student.

Reaching the Summit

More than 260 of these students participated in the recent Connecticut Clean Trades Summit at Central Connecticut State University, presenting their findings and ideas on how to make their schools greener as they wrapped up their first year of the pilot Connecticut Clean Trades Program (CCTP).

The CCTP Summit, attended by construction trades students from Platt, Abbott, E.C. Goodwin, Norwich, and Grasso technical high schools, represented the culmination of year-long, work-based learning projects that gave students real world experiences to help prepare them for the energy workforce. At the summit, student teams demonstrated their ability to solve problems, work as a team, and make presentations: all essential workplace skills.

A panel of judges from Connecticut Light and Power, United Illuminating Company, Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority, Coca-Cola, and the University of New Haven observed each school's presentations, awarding the top prize to E.C. Goodwin Technical High School.

CCTP sponsors were so impressed with the student presentations that they awarded a Bright Idea Grant to each school to implement the recommendations.

Students also attended a career fair at the summit to learn more about careers from energy-related companies and organizations. Career opportunities are expanding in the energy and sustainability green jobs market, and businesses in the field want to expand students' awareness of the possibilities.

"The Clean Trades Program is a unique public-private partnership that gives students the opportunity to explore energy-related careers through the work they perform at their school and in their community," said Dr. Nivea Torres, superintendent of the Connecticut Technical High School System. "Over the last several years, there has been tremendous job growth in this sector. Our main goal with the program is to help students learn the necessary skills to qualify for these jobs."

CCTP is funded and supported by Energize Connecticut in partnership with Connecticut Light & Power, United Illuminating, and the Connecticut Technical High School System. CBIA manages the program, and curriculum support comes from the American Forest and Park Association's Project Learning Tree, supported by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Mary deManbey is a program manager at CBIA's Education Foundation. Contact her at mary.demanbey@cbia.com.