ACM Students Build 14’ Carbon Fiber Bridge

03/11/2015 by Lisa Proulx

Students enrolled in the Advanced Composites Manufacturing Certificate program at Great Bay Community College's Advanced Technology and Academic Center (ATAC) in Rochester, recently completed a new High Performance Fabrication course. Added in February, the course is part of a new specialization within the 6-month Advanced Composites Manufacturing Certificate (ACM) program which provides students with industrial training for employment in composites materials manufacturing.

Over the 4 week course, students were each required to work in the lab at ATAC to manufacture a bridge part using processes of oven curing of carbon fiber prepreg and infusion for fiberglass parts.   During the final class, parts were assembled to create a 14 foot long bridge. ”This project required students to use their knowledge of fiber orientation, flow behavior, mold use, and curing processes, as well as incorporation of applied math, physics, chemistry, and measurement” said Instructor Bret Blanchard.  “In a short amount of time students had to learn new processes, then apply the knowledge to create a product consisting of multiple parts.   This work required manual dexterity, preplanning, writing of work instructions, time management, problem solving, and revising.”   

According to Debra Mattson, Advanced Materials Manufacturing Program Director/Designer at Great Bay’s Advanced Technology And Academic Center, the new course meets the training needs for a wide segment of the composites industry “By teaching student the skills to use all the customary materials, tools and equipment for the manufacturing of high performance composites, they see firsthand what manufacturing processes are happening each day in industries including  aerospace, automotive, high end marine, and consumer goods.”

In addition to High Performance Fabrication, students enrolled in the ACM Certificate program can also choose from other areas of concentration including Paint Operator, Weaving Technician and Preform Finishing, Resin Transfer Molding Technician, Bonding and Finishing Operator, Quality Inspection and CMM Operator, Composites CNC Milling and Set-up Operator and Composites Repair Technician. 

GBCC is currently teaching the 9th cohort of students enrolled in the Advanced Composites Manufacturing Certificate program, graduating students every 4 months.  According to Mattson, out of the 25 students who graduated in May 2014, 21 are currently employed.  The program is poised to grow from 60 graduates the first year to over 200 graduates in year three.  

ATAC is the largest single project under the statewide Advanced Manufacturing Partnerships in Education initiative (AMPedNH).  Amped NH is sponsored by a $19.97 million grant from the U.S. DOL Employment & Training Administration TAACCCT Grant to Great Bay Community College and the Community College System.

Great Bay Community College is currently accepting applications for the next The Advanced Composites Manufacturing Certificate Program starting in June.  For more information, contact Jeff Pruyne at jpruyne@ccsnh.edu or 603-427-7770.