Craig Drezek, Assistant Superintendent of Magnet Schools, heads up Early College Advanced Manufacturing Pathway (ECAMP™). He and Goodwin College President Mark Scheinberg recently spoke with MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price about why the program was created and the potential impact it has on Connecticut’s imminent workforce.
NAN PRICE: How and why did Goodwin College develop the ECAMP program?
CRAIG DREZEK: We were looking at ways we could utilize at Goodwin resources to enhance programming at local pre-K through 12 school districts. We met with school superintendents to find out where they were lacking in resources and programs and discovered that advanced manufacturing was most aligned with their needs.
It’s challenging to expose kids to manufacturing if you don’t have the equipment, technology, and curriculum. We provide all of that at Goodwin. So, we began an early college experience program, which evolved into Early College Advanced Manufacturing Pathway (ECAMP).
The program was built with direction from Dr. Cliff Thermer, Assistant Vice President for Strategy & Business Development and Department Chair, Business, Management and Advanced Manufacturing. Our first 12-week program with students from Hartford Public Schools was launched in March 2019 at Goodwin’s Business and Advanced Manufacturing Center in East Hartford.
NAN: How are schools becoming involved in the ECAMP program?
MARK SCHEINBERG: We’ve been working with about 25 districts since November. Eight have committed with agreements to participate in fall 2019.
This is essentially a regional high school program. We already have magnet schools on campus. There is already transportation everywhere. We’ve been comingling urban and suburban districts. We’re providing an opportunity to students who are interested in the same subjects—which creates an integrated environment. These students can learn more about manufacturing and get college credit while they’re still in high school, before they start making lifelong career decisions.
CRAIG: In talking with different districts, we learned that every town has different needs. Some have capacity to deliver a comprehensive program and some don’t. Some districts don’t have equipment, while others have equipment but no staff. So, we developed ECAMP to be customized. For example, students from some districts are brought to Goodwin’s campus to learn on professional machines; in other districts, Goodwin faculty will travel to teach classes.
NAN: What do students gain from becoming involved in the ECAMP program?
CRAIG: I think, in many ways, high school students are ingrained to think they must follow a certain path: You go to high school then you go to college. They aren’t always introduced to pathways into different vocations. The ECAMP program fits that need. Students don’t have to sacrifice or choose between attending a technical school or going to college.
With ECAMP, if a student decides to pivot, they still receive a transcript with transferable credits. They’re not stuck in a lane. They may choose to take their transcript to another school, or they may continue their experience at Goodwin. We are a four-year accredited college that offers master’s degrees.
Goodwin also helps develop workforce-ready employees. If a student starts the ECAMP program in high school, they leave with a certificate that makes them employable in a career. They don’t have to stop there. Everything continues to progress—they can earn their associate degree or the bachelor’s degree. They can continue working toward lifelong goals in a career where they do an internship or apprenticeship in their field while they’re enhancing and furthering their academics.
MARK: What’s also interesting is, ECAMP students are taking high school and college courses at the same time. So, they’re not only earning college credits, they’re also checking off boxes in high school. If they can earn 15 or 30 credits while they’re still in high school, they may be able to graduate from college with a four-year degree in less than four years and save tuition costs.
NAN: Let’s talk about the long-term impact. How does ECAMP help students integrate into Connecticut’s workforce?
MARK: Programs like this, at the high school level and afterward, go right to the bottom line in terms of the Connecticut workforce. With ECAMP, by the time they’re out of high school, these students already have most of their certification to find work in advanced manufacturing.
Many students participate in internships or apprenticeships with local companies, which are so desperate to fill the pipeline they often provide part-time jobs while students are still in school. Students with advanced manufacturing certification are so coveted, sometimes companies will pay them to go to school because they want to pick them up as soon as they’ve graduated. With these kinds of opportunities available to them, students aren’t looking to move outside of Connecticut.
NAN: What’s next?
MARK: We’re looking forward to having new cohorts of students begin the next ECAMP program in fall 2019. Goodwin also plans to open a new 15,000 ft2 high school annex to support the ECAMP initiative this fall.
CRAIG: With the success of ECAMP, we started reaching out to other industries, like insurance, to develop new ECAP (early college advanced pathways) programming.
We need to bring our programs, especially manufacturing and insurance, down to the high school level—even down to the middle school level—to expand students’ knowledge about the career opportunities available to them here in Connecticut.
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