UNH partners with MCC for tailor-made advanced manufacturing degrees

Get in on the ground floor of this partnership between MCC and UNH Manchester.

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Manufacturing opportunities abound in NH. Photo/MCC

MANCHESTER, NH – Are you interested in being part of the first wave of New Hampshire automation engineers and robot operators? A partnership between Manchester Community College (MCC) and the University of New Hampshire Manchester (UNHM) makes obtaining the training you need to get there fast and convenient.

“Those willing to put in the effort can earn a very marketable mechanical engineering technology degree without ever having to leave the community,” said Dan Larochelle, MCC professor and the department chair for its advanced manufacturing program. “Companies are eagerly anticipating new students graduating from the program so they can hire them.”

The program is a new pathway focused on mechanical engineering technology (MET) for students pursuing a degree in the existing advanced manufacturing technology associate degree program at MCC. Two existing pathways – robotics and mechatronics – meet the need for many students, but for those who eventually want to earn a bachelor’s degree (or greater) in mechanical engineering technology, the new approach has some distinct advantages.

First, it presents the opportunity for dual enrollment at MCC and UNHM. It’s the only way students can currently be enrolled at both institutions – and access the resources of both. The challenging, but manageable, program is a good fit for students with aptitude in math, and sets students up for a seamless transfer to UNH Manchester’s mechanical engineering technology bachelor’s degree program.

“We view this partnership as an opportunity for these students to maximize their return on investment by beginning at a community college and then transferring to us,” said Sean Tavares, assistant professor in the Mechanical Engineering Technology program at UNHM. “The community college-to-bachelor’s degree route is particularly powerful as an important step to ensure students have access to an affordable education.”

Students don’t need to wait until graduation to get their hands on the technology and processes driving innovation in manufacturing because of the internships available through the program. Though not required, students can also take on an internship at several local companies including GE, Hitchiner Manufacturing, Macy’s Industries and others still in development, such as with Granite State Manufacturing. Those internship sites offer experiential learning opportunities, often with an emphasis on automation technicians – a rapidly growing field that many MCC advanced manufacturing students enter.

“New Hampshire’s advanced manufacturers and high tech companies are clamoring for qualified employees for many current unfilled jobs in mechanical engineering technology: that’s robotics, process improvement, or finding ways to create improved or more efficient versions of existing products,” said Larochelle, who also spends time introducing high school students to the technology of modern manufacturing. “Ultimately, our largest industries want to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. in more efficient and high tech ways, with a focus on automation, 3-D printing and critical thinking skills.”

The degree program, along with the current and new pathways with UNHM, was developed in partnership with UNH’s advisory board, manufacturing professionals across the community, and other academic and workforce experts to ensure curriculum keeps up with the speed of technology. Classes are project-based, so along with learning advanced concepts, students demonstrate the knowledge by working on a project from design to completion using the same tools and approaches as they would at a job site. In one class, students must design a golf putter with computer models, machine a prototype, test and solve issues, and work together as a team to find one of many possible solutions.

“Problem solving and communication skills are just as important as knowing your way around a machine shop, so we emphasize that to be successful in a professional capacity, well-rounded students are more marketable,” Larochelle said. “And when you’re more marketable, more job opportunities open up.”

And those jobs, Larochelle says, are yours for the taking.

“If you are willing to work hard, are good at solving problems and like to work as a team, we can teach you the rest.”

To learn more about the advanced manufacturing program at MCC and its dual enrollment Mechanical Engineering Technology track to pursue a bachelor’s degree at UNHM, contact Dan Larochelle at 603-440-4054,dlarochelle@ccsnh.edu or attend the open house on Wednesday, August 16 from 4-7pm.

About Manchester Community College

Manchester Community College is part of the Community College System of New Hampshire, and offers more than 60 associate degree and certificate programs for transfer and career training. Associate degree programs include advanced manufacturing, allied health, automotive technologies, business studies, computer science, education, electrical technology, HVAC, liberal arts and welding. MCC also offers professional and workforce development, and customized corporate training. For more information, visitwww.mccnh.edu.

About Carol Robidoux 5281 Articles
Journalist and editor of ManchesterInkLink.com, a hyperlocal news and information site for Manchester, NH.