A local high school is giving students hands-on experience in aerospace and advanced manufacturing.
“It's so much easier to learn in this environment,” said Middletown High School senior Cheyenne Fuoco.
For students, it’s a chance to create, to turn plans on paper into a working airplane, and they say what’s happening in their classrooms is giving them a head start in their careers.
“I’ve had a lot of strong female role models as a child, and I grew up around Sikorsky as a girl scout, so all of that helped me pursue this,” said Fuoco.
On Wednesday, the school officially opened its new aerospace and manufacturing program with courses in drone and flight science, mechanical technology, and aerospace design. The school says more than 130 students are currently enrolled and are getting experience with virtual reality, flight simulators, and coding.
“I have coded this program on here. I got to run on the machine which is the Haas machine. I learned how to run it with the parts and everything,” said Middletown High School sophomore Daniella Ikonn.
“This is the future of education, early exposure to the latest technology, equipment, and methods,” said Middletown Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Conner.
The official launch of the program comes just a day after announced job cuts to Pratt & Whitney. It’s an economy that can appear daunting to students, but Governor Ned Lamont says it’ll rebound.
“We’ve been the manufacturing center for aerospace for a long time. We will be for a long time to come,” said Lamont. “You train for these jobs, they’ll be jobs for you right here, good-paying jobs.”
And the defense side is seeing growth. Raytheon reported it’s adding thousands of jobs on that end, and Sikorsky says it’s hired nearly 250 people in the last six months.
“Programs like this are the type of students we’re looking for,” said Sikorsky Vice President of Operations George Mitchell.
Students say this program is a chance to get college credit, to explore different career paths, and to give them an idea of what to expect in the future.