HAMDEN -- It was an exciting groundbreaking at Hamden High School for the newly unveiled STEAM academy.
STEAM promotes learning in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. The academy, named Hamden Engineering Careers Academy (HECA), is to help students move towards high demand manufacturing and engineering jobs.
"There's maybe 15,000 unfilled jobs in New Haven County alone right now," said Dan Cocchiola, the coordinating counseling career pathways leader at the high school. "This is a tremendous time in Connecticut for manufacturing."
The program allows students to work towards getting an Associates Degree while working towards their diploma.
"We get college credits while doing this program for the next four years. We get to learn about the engineering and manufacturing process, which is I think amazing," said Jack Gaffney, a freshman at Hamden High School.
Following Thursday's groundbreaking, construction on HECA will be underway within the next week.
"We're going to have 20 simulator machines where the design for CNC processes happen, we're going to have two large CMCs, a lathe, a mill, as well as 3-D printers from maker boxes up to the larger units," said Cocchiola.
The program was paid for in part by the state. The school will work Gateway Community College and The New Haven Manufacturing Association to provide the opportunity for these 35 students to earn 68 college credits during their high school tenure.
Governor Lamont was also in attendance for the groundbreaking and said no more than ever is the time to get involved with STEAM.
"It's a great time to be getting the skills and a great time to be in Connecticut because we have thousands of advanced manufacturing jobs," said Lamont. "Those jobs are open just waiting somebody trained out of the heck a program to hurry up and graduate."