MakerspaceCT Launches Program to Prepare Local Residents for Jobs
Individuals looking to change careers, broaden their industry skills, are unemployed or underemployed, are stepping up to participate in a new program launched this month by MakerspaceCT to prepare them for in-demand, high-tech manufacturing jobs.
The initiative is supported by grant funding by NBC Connecticut, Telemundo Connecticut, and the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation’s Project Innovation. The initiative, “Innovation and Beyond: 3D Printing for the New Collar Workforce,” provides full scholarships for individuals to learn 3D additive manufacturing. MakerspaceCT was selected to receive an $80,000 grant to begin the program.
The first four-month session, underway this month, is providing 10 individuals with hands-on instruction at MakerspaceCT in Hartford. The class meets for 2 ½ hours each Tuesday and Thursday evening, through January. A second session, which will also have spaces for 10 participants, will begin in February 2021. Applications for the February session will become available later this year. Each session also includes resume preparation, review of job postings, and interview preparation. Students completing the program earn a portable digital, verifiable credential, which is maintained by an affiliate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
MakerspaceCT, a leader in Hartford’s emerging innovation ecosystem, is a 25,000 sq. ft. community resource facility offering training and classes for all types of tools needed to make or manufacture prototypes, art, small business projects, and entrepreneurial pursuits. Emphasis is on hardware and software, prototype creation, additive (3D) manufacturing, CNC machining, electronics, coding, fiber arts fabrication, wood and metal, and arts.
Additive manufacturing adds material to create an object, achieved by using computer-aided design to direct hardware to deposit material in precise geometric shapes. The program participants’ acquired skills can prove attractive to a manufacturer, architect, prototype house, machine shop, or product design firm. Credentials earned will be logged into the MakerspaceCT private database, and the course syllabus will be available online to any prospective employer to review covered topics and coursework.
“The frustration we hear expressed by employers, who spend a significant amount of financial investment into training, is that workers are often unprepared for the requirements of the new digital workplace,” said MakerspaceCT Executive Director Devra Sisitsky. “This initiative aims to close that gap by intensifying our experiential program in a unique and specialized community environment, in shops that are specifically designed for this purpose and expert instructors to guide participants.”
The Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation and NBC/Telemundo owned stations Project Innovation aims to “strengthen communities through innovation and technology solutions.” Applications were evaluated earlier this year to determine organizations’ ability to deliver quality programming that meets pressing needs in their communities. NBC Connecticut and Telemundo Connecticut coordinated the program application and virtual review process here. Selected programs encourage equitable access, opportunities, and resources for traditionally underrepresented communities.
“NBC CT and Telemundo CT are proud, once again, to support local non-profit organizations, whose projects are not only innovative but have proactively utilized their services to help individuals affected by the latest pandemic,” said Diane Hannes, President and General Manager of NBC Connecticut and Telemundo Connecticut. “Through Project Innovation and many other impactful initiatives, we will continue to be committed to our local communities by offering ways to achieve resilience and thrive together to become stronger than ever.”
“Our vision and mission is to use making as a vehicle to lift up individuals and communities and to positively impact lives by enabling access, innovation, and education. As the largest makerspace in Connecticut, with nine internal shops,” Sisitsky added, “MakerspaceCT is uniquely positioned to provide start-to-finish skill development. We are grateful to the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation for the opportunity to launch this program, enabling local residents to participate and positioning them to pursue careers, which will in turn benefit local companies and our entire community.”
Achieving success in the Industry 4.0 era requires companies to embrace an unprecedented rate of change. Additive Manufacturing technologies and those who have expertise in them are already in high demand, and data suggests the need for qualified workers will continue to grow. Sisitsky noted that in CBIA’s 2019 Connecticut Manufacturing Report, over 161,000 jobs in the emerging digital workplace require higher level technical skills. Manufacturers want to hire but find that skilled technicians in additive who can design parts, specifically for additive, run 3D printing equipment and service that equipment are currently limited.
MakerspaceCT’s approach to hands-on learning combines the instructional depth of long term education programming with intensive short-term, high impact, on- site equipment based learning in shops specifically designed to provide the skill development supported by industry experts as instructors. MakerspaceCT, operating from the former G.Fox building on Main Street in downtown Hartford, offers learning and training opportunities to develop innovative skills in technology. MakerspaceCT empowers manufacturers, entrepreneurs, hobbyists and students with all experience levels to take classes and develop skills in modern technology.