Waterbury, Conn. — There's a waiting list to get into a new advanced manufacturing training center that opened in Waterbury, equipped with a Wittmann Battenfeld work cell for injection molding machines.
The non-profit Manufacturing Alliance Service Corp. (MASC) had room for 10 students in its inaugural plastics industry training class, which started in April. More than had 60 applied.
The program is designed for high school students and adults who want to learn new skills that provide pathways to apprenticeships and full-time employment.
Students receive seven weeks classroom and hands-on training that covers injection molding, robotics and programming, Industry 4.0 methods and more. They graduate with the skills to be entry-level operators, according to Rich DuPont, president of Research Development Associates (RDA), a manufacturer consultancy in Watertown, Conn.
RDA set out to connect the state's plastics industry companies with MASC to provide workforce development. Officials at companies like PTA Corp., which does business as PTA Plastics in Oxford, Forum Plastics LLC in Waterbury, and Seitz LLC in Torrington recommended the consultants contact Wittmann Battenfeld, DuPont said in a press release.
"Our goal is to build a pool of qualified candidates who can step in and help upgrade the capabilities of plastics companies throughout the state," DuPont said.
The centerpiece of the training center is a Wittmann Battenfeld SmartPower 35 IMM Workcell that has a W818 robot and auxiliaries, including a Tempro Plus Temperature Control Unit and Aton Plus Dryer. The work cell is Industry 4.0 ready.
Wittmann Battenfeld donated staff time and materials in addition to the equipment.
"We were happy to support this initiative to provide much-needed plastics training opportunities to people in Connecticut," said Brent Strawbridge, a regional sales manager for Wittmann Battenfeld. "Our industry needs trained labor to succeed, and graduates of this program will be able to step directly into available jobs at plastics molding companies."
Kelli-Marie Vallieres, executive director of the Connecticut Workforce Development Unit, called the MASC center a gem.
"We are so proud of the Connecticut manufacturing community for stepping up and helping make this program a reality," she said. "It's our hope that we can expand the Advanced Manufacturing Plastics Training Program to other facilities throughout the state."
The first group of students will complete their training June 4 and the next group will begin shortly afterward. Advanced training sessions are being considered for those who want to continue their education and evening sessions will likely be offered to meet students' schedule needs, DuPont said in a phone interview.