As construction begins at Ella T. Grasso Technical High School in Groton, students won’t just see a new school, but a new program: Welding and Metal Fabrication. The curriculum was developed in collaboration with nearby Electric Boat.
“The entire country is facing a shortage of welders and rather than just wallow in misery, we decided to take a very proactive approach with some very capable team members," said Harold Haugeto, manager of steel trades operation for Electric Boat.
EB could soon have a build rate of up to three Navy submarines per year. For the last decade, it’s been about a half a ship per year, according to Haugeto.
The new program would take EB’s requirements directly to Grasso Tech so students could learn to specifically become Electric Boat welders.
"We really want to get them into a career. Really be able to have a future in Eastern Connecticut," said John Murphy, education consultant for the Connecticut Technical High School System.
Electric Boat had a hand in the design process for the new welding lab, Murphy said. It's been at least 15 years since there has been a welding program for students at Grasso, he said, but EB does have a hand in the pipeline training at night for adults in the school's welding facility.
Both Murphy and Haugeto said this new curriculum could support several local welding positions.
“We obviously subcontract to a lot of the suppliers around here. So our welding requirements, we feel, if they can go off and support our requirements, they can be very, very successful anywhere in the eastern Connecticut area," Haugeto said.
Justin Bingaman is a rising senior at Grasso Tech and studying drafting. He’s confident the new welding program will give students the same job opportunities with EB that his program is giving him.
"I've been told a lot of the seniors have gotten hired," Bingaman said, adding it makes him feel “pretty, pretty good cause I can almost guaranteed get a job.”
The new school cost approximately $134.9 million and is state-funded. It's expected to be completed for the 2019-2020 school year.