New academy coming to New Britain High this fall

NEW BRITAIN - A new academy is coming to New Britain High School, and educators and the school district's industrial partners offered details to the Board of Education Monday.

The Academy of Engineering, Manufacturing and IT is coming to NBHS in the 2018-19 school year. It will prepare students for jobs in those fields after high school, even if they choose to pursue postsecondary education.

Lillian Bartkowicz, president of Richard's Machine Tool of Newington, is a member of the academy's advisory board. Bartkowicz said it's important to train young people in manufacturing-related fields.

"I want to stress how important manufacturing is today and for the future. It is far from a dying industry," Bartkowicz said. "As a local business owner, our biggest problem is finding good help, let alone skilled help."

Bruce Fiedorowicz, executive director of the nonprofit Aerospace Components Manufacturers, shared similar sentiments. ACM represents more than 100 aerospace manufacturers in Connecticut and Massachusetts, and Fiedorowicz said the industry needs more workers as current employees retire.

"Without replacement workers, this industry is going to gravitate, as you've seen other industries gravitate," Fiedorowicz said.

Bhupal Babajiyavar, a teacher at NBHS, is the team leader at the new academy. Babajiyavar said there are many jobs and few qualified workers in manufacturing right now, so trade-based education is important.

"This academy will definitely help fill that employment gap and it will give our students that hands-on experience that they need," Babajiyavar told the board.

Sondra Sanford, the director of NBHS's Academy of Finance and assistant coordinator of programs and community partnerships, said the academy's advisory board has been busy recently, meeting monthly, to finalize details of the new academy.

"The passion from a lot of our partners is incredible," Sanford said.

The new academy will join the school's current academies: the Academy of Finance and the Academy of Health Sciences.

"It's encouraging our students that they have opportunities," Sanford said. "There's so much potential and career stability in manufacturing."

The academy has been in a pilot program this year at the high school and will be fully launched in the fall.