Thanks to receiving a major grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, a new major curriculum is in the final stages of development at the New England Institute of Technology.
The school commonly known as “The Technical College” that has two campuses, one in Warwick and the other in East Greenwich, recently was provided a $2.5-million grant to help establish a Shipbuilding/Marine, Advanced Manufacturing Institute (SAMI), a program that will offer individuals the opportunity to enter the various fields involved in the construction of ships and marine manufacturing.
New England Tech also received $50,000 from the Rhode Island Foundation through its ‘Make It Happen’ initiative to assist in the marketing of the SAMI program.
Steve Kitchin, the vice president of corporate education and training at New England Tech, says the idea of the new program came about during the latter half of this past fall by having conversations with employers, such as General Dynamics/Electric Boat, Senesco Marine and the Rhode Island Manufacturers Association, about what their demand side needs were for their respective
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industries to help develop the SAMI program.
In anticipation of the funding, which was approved for New England Tech on Feb. 25, Kitchin says NEIT had been investigating the types of resources it would need at the college to provide “the kind of training necessary for these types of careers and what labs would be equipped in what ways.” Whether it was constructing or refurbishing facilities in order to meet the needs to offer the proper training for the aspiring shipbuilding students, New England Tech had to do its own due diligence to see if the project would work, which at the time was a roll of the dice on the college’s part considering it hadn’t received approval for the grant.
“Bottom line, it was somewhat risky on our part, we already have been in discussions on how we would house these facilities and how they would be equipped, how the curriculum would develop, who would be working on the development of the curriculum,” Kitchin says. “All of that has been taking place and thankfully, it will be a risk that looks like it’s going to pay off in the sense that we will be able to hit the ground running in an expeditious way because we did some of that preliminary work for before receiving notification that the grant would be funded.”
According to Kitchin, the SAMI operations will involve multiple stages and nuances. First, he says, is without distinction, to attract individuals who have an interest in ship building, marine and advanced manufacturing. In that process, New England Tech would have an “assessment mechanism” that involves personal interest inventories, looking over their academic background and seeing what the student’s strengths and weaknesses are.
Kitchin also says that NEIT is going to build into that assessment process a “hands-on component,” where the potential candidate for training in SAMI would actually see some hands-on experiences.
“For example, if someone wants to be a CNC (computer numerical control) operator, we’re going to build into their initial SAMI experience some hands-on learning as to what a CNC operator is all about,” he says.
Kitchin adds that New England Tech will also offer assistance to students so they can make the best informed career decision that they can, giving them the opportunity to opt out of the program if they choose to.
Occupations that are being targeted by employers that are involved with SAMI include shipfitters, pipefitters, welders, machinists/CNC operators, engine and systems repair, electronics installation and repair, composites, and woodworking. According to New England Tech, both Electric Boat and Senesco Marin have already made commitments to offer on-the-job training experiences and employment to successful program graduates.
Kitchin says that, for the most part, the SAMI assessment function will be housed at the Post Road campus in Warwick. He adds there will be the use of existing labs that will support SAMI, whether it’s the pipe-fitting lab or the new machine tool lab – both located at the Post Road campus – or the welding lab that’s at the Access Road campus.
“There will be multiple sites that will provide the actual skills training,” he says.
Kitchin also hopes that the program will be operational by mid to late summer.
For more information regarding the SAMI program, contact Fred Santaniello at 401-739-5000 or firstname.lastname@example.org .