Manufacturing summit welcomes 185 high school and middle school girls

Students, educators and officials from Connecticut and Massachusetts explore first-hand how making things takes teamwork, creativity and skills.

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More than 185 middle and high school girls came together to participate in the third annual “Connecticut. Dream It. Do It. Making It Real: Girls & Manufacturing Summit” at the Hartford/Windsor Marriott in Windsor, Conn., on Oct. 28, 2016.

The event, presented by Connecticut. Dream It. Do It., Dream It. Do It. Massachusetts and AMP It Up!, taught the girls what goes into manufacturing through hands-on workshops and a roundtable discussion with leading women in the industry.

“With the under-representation of women in manufacturing, sparking interest in future careers among girls is a priority to assure that manufacturers can attract, retain and advance women in leading, skilled positions,” said Susan Palisano, director of education & workforce development, Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology Inc. (CCAT), which licenses and directs Connecticut. Dream It. Do It.

During the opening session, Connecticut and Massachusetts leaders encouraged the young women to look seriously at the wide range of opportunities available to them in manufacturing. Speakers included Connecticut Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman; senior vice president, Manufacturing Initiatives and Business Development at MassDevelopment Veda Clark; Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Catherine Smith; Connecticut Department of Labor Commissioner Scott Jackson; Connecticut Department of Education Interim Chief Academic Officer Dr. Isabelina Rodriguez; and Connecticut State Colleges & Universities Director of Advanced Manufacturing Centers Tracy Ariel.

Prior to the opening session, the girls had a chance to tour the Goodwin College Advanced Manufacturing Mobile Lab for a first-hand look at high-tech manufacturing machines. Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who is known for her stiletto shoes, reminded the girls that manufacturers make products other than jet engines and submarines, which are notably made in Connecticut. As she held up one of her signature shoes she stated, “I happen to be known for my heels. You could be designing these heels. They have to be manufactured.”

The event included three different hands-on activities involving skills in design, collaboration, creativity, communication, logistics, and customer service. Students were grouped into teams to build specified products in the K’Nex Kompetition, meet customer demands and gain an understanding of supply logistics in the Ice Cream Stick Factory, and think outside the design box to build the tallest skyscraper in the Straw Skyscraper challenge.

During the luncheon, Eileen Tremblay, senior director, industrial management, Pratt & Whitney, spoke about her personal professional journey and the rewards of working in the dynamic jet engine industry. A roundtable panel discussion gave the girls a chance to talk with successful women in the industry and in academia. Moderated by Bonnie Del Conte, president and CEO, CONNSTEP, panelists included Jacqueline Gallo, strategic operations and lean manager, Whitcraft Group; Megan Ilnicky, intern, CCAT Advanced Manufacturing Center; Joan Rayno, senior director, program management at Integrated Air and Missile Defense for Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems; Dr. Nivea Torres, superintendent of schools, Connecticut Technical High School System; and Dr. Diane Van Scoter, associate professor for materials science and engineering, University of Connecticut.

Connecticut. Dream It. Do It., licensed and led by CCAT and funded by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, and Dream It. Do It. Massachusetts, represented by MassDevelopment and also supported by the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership, are part of The Manufacturing Institute’s nationwide campaign to create a positive image of manufacturing today and attract the industry’s future skilled talent and leaders.

Click here for more information about the Girls & Manufacturing Summit or Manufacturing Month.

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