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Twenty-seven STEM teachers were on campus recently for the sixth annual Materials and Manufacturers Summer Teachers’ Institute, a school-to-career initiative that targets STEM skills instruction in the New Haven and Bridgeport Public Schools, grades 7-12. The teachers’ professional development is the institute’s strategy for engaging 7th – 12th grade students in the practical uses of STEM skills in manufacturing and materials science.

This outreach effort — a strategic partnership among SouthernCRISP, the Southern Connecticut Chapter of the American Society for Materials InternationalCT Technical High School System and the New Haven Manufacturers Association — focuses on teacher education. It immerses teachers in the needs, rigors, skill sets, applications, and training that the manufacturing community need and employ.

To date the program has impacted over 150 teachers from across the State. Christine Broadbridge, dean of the School of Graduate Studies, Research, & Innovation (GSRI) and co-director of the institute, is pleased with the program’s success. “We are looking into expanding and also offering specialized programs for school administrators and school guidance counselors,” she said. Broadbridge also acknowledged the many contributions to the institute made by Robert Klancko, partner, Klancko & Klancko, LLC, and co-director of the institute, who is moving out of state later this year. “Bob has worked tirelessly to champion industry-academic partnerships, and the impact of his efforts are significant and far reaching. This program would not have happened without his hard work and dedication.” Mr. Klancko is the recipient of the 2018 Leadership Award from the American Manufacturing Hall of Fame.

This year’s Institute’s theme was “Gearing Up For The Future,” and the teachers learned about gears — how they are designed and how they are made. On the first day of the institute, a morning session was held at Southern, and an afternoon session was held at Leed Himmel, where teachers toured the manufacturing plant and saw aluminum extrusion and fabrication, and heard from hiring professionals. The second and third days were held at Platt Technical High School in Milford. On these two days, the teachers not only learned about the manufacturing process and materials, but also gained hands-on experience on various machine shop equipment.

An optional fourth half day took place at Assa Abloy, where teachers toured the facilities and spoke to industry professionals. They saw how lock hardware was fabricated and how the extrusions from Leed Himmel were employed.

Overall, science faculty attending the institute learned from industry operations and technical professionals about the following:

  • Their firms and what they produce
  • STEM skill sets that are required
  • The raw materials used, how the product is made and what it is required to perform
  • Why certain materials are utilized and the critical properties of those materials
  • What goes into creating a product
  • Obstacles and limitations associated with creating a product

Presenters and attendees of the Material Science and Manufacturing in front of SCSU's science building

Science and mathematics educators from various communities in southern Connecticut revved up their engines during the recent fifth annual Materials & Manufacturing Summer Teachers Institute.

One of the highlights of the institute was when the teachers manufactured their own stirling engines, which they placed on top of their coffee mugs. A stirling engine is a closed-cycle heat engine that uses cyclic compression and expansion of air to produce energy.

“The exercise enabled the teachers to gain a better understanding of the real-world value of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), as well as the many career opportunities available in manufacturing. Both are primary purposes of the program,” said Christine Broadbridge, co-director of the institute. She serves as dean of the School of Graduate Studies, Research and Innovation at Southern.

“By demonstrating the practical side of STEM, the teachers are better able to take that knowledge and awareness and develop innovative teaching methods to help inspire and prepare middle and high school students for STEM-related fields,” Broadbridge said.

Faculty listening to presentation at Southern's science center

The four-day workshop included general discussions on education and manufacturing topics; the development of lesson plans in small groups with other teachers, hands-on scientific experiences, and tours of schools and area manufacturing firms. It was co-sponsored by Southern, the New Haven Manufacturers Association (NHMA), the Center for Research on Interface Structures and Phenomena (CRISP) at Yale and Southern (which is a materials research science and engineering center that receives funding from the National Science Foundation), and an array of community partners throughout the region and state.

The institute was coordinated by SCSU, and included hands-on sessions at Platt Tech of Milford, as well as tours at Leed Himmel Industries of Hamden and Assa Abloy Door Security Solutions in New Haven.

Nearly 30 teachers participated, including those from school districts such as New Haven, Bridgeport, Milford, Stratford and Hartford.

Teachers at the Manufacturing and Material Science workshop

Speakers included SCSU President Joe Bertolino; Robert Prezant, SCSU provost and vice president for academic affairs; Jim Gildea, director of manufacturing at Bigelow Tea; Kris Lorch, president of Alloy Engineering Company Inc. of Bridgeport; Robert Klancko, partner, Klancko & Klancko, LLC, and co-director of the institute; Dave Tuttle, chairman of manufacturing technologies at Platt Tech; Greg AmEnde, instructor of manufacturing technologies; Drew Most, chairman of manufacturing technologies at Bullard-Havens Tech in Bridgeport; Carol Jenkins, CRISP education and outreach coordinator, and institute coordinator; and various state officials.