One by one, dozens of middle- and high-school girls stepped to the microphone and asked tough questions of expert panelists. Where are the manufacturing jobs? What are they? What do they pay? What does my future look like?

It’s inspiring to watch and listen to hundreds of students soak in knowledge for a lifetime. There is nothing quite like witnessing young minds starting to get it, see it and almost taste it. I am lucky enough to be a part of such things, and on that day I stood in the back of a ballroom at the annual Making It Real: Girls & Manufacturing Summit, celebrating Manufacturing Month, October.

Students across the state are preparing for bright futures in manufacturing careers, and the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology is excited to be a part of that. In the 2017-2018 school year, over 1,600 middle-school students at nine urban schools took part in instructional manufacturing and STEM-related programming. Additionally, more than 200 students statewide attended our summer Young Manufacturers Academy program; 400 participated in two major Manufacturing Month events.

As a non-profit corporation that provides services and resources to industry, academia, entrepreneurs and government, our Education & Workforce Development unit works with the manufacturing community to enhance employer engagement and provide critical assistance to job seekers. We create curriculum and implement programs for students interested in STEM-based careers. Our hands-on workshops, manufacturing site visits and learning activities provide and foster an environment that proves to students, families, friends and educators that there is reason to believe success awaits after graduation. As an approved training provider and licensed test center, CCAT also delivers pre-apprenticeship training and administers basic and technical skills assessments for core manufacturing competencies — resulting in industry-recognized credentials.

As the state license holder and coordinator of Connecticut Dream It. Do It., we are part of a national initiative promoting manufacturing careers. We are proud that our Young Manufacturers Academy was endorsed by the National Association of Manufacturers and is recognized as a best practice throughout the national Dream It. Do It. Network; we are excited that widespread activities each October — Connecticut. Dream It. Do It. Manufacturing Month — highlight the many manufacturing career opportunities.

Connecticut must be prudent about how it spends its resources. By recognizing that manufacturing industries are critical to the economic well-being of Connecticut, the state continues to invest in programs that feed the talent pipeline, support manufacturing growth and future workforce engagement, assisting the 4,000 manufacturing firms which employ more than 150,000 workers.

If you’re a student wondering about the future, think about manufacturing. And if you have questions … well … we have answers.

Elliot Ginsberg

President & CEO, CCAT