Advanced Technology center to expand by 50% by next spring

07/17/2014 by Liz Markhlevskaya

ROCHESTER — After a successful first year, the Advanced Technology and Academic Center in Rochester plans to expand by more than 50 percent by next spring.

The 17,000-square-foot center, located in the Lilac Mall plaza, is expanding to meet demands of the advanced composites manufacturing industry for the next 10 to 15 years. The center, which is a satellite of Great Bay Community College, provides both traditional academic classes and technology training that meets the needs of local manufacturers, including Albany Engineered Composites and Safran Aerospace Composites, two companies that recently opened a joint composite manufacturing plant in the city.

The center first opened in June 2013, and by December its first group of students graduated the six-month advanced composites manufacturing certificate program. All of those graduates have since been invited to job interviews in their field, and most of them were hired within weeks of completing the program.

“Our students are obtaining well-paying high-tech careers after their training here,” said Debra Mattson, the curriculum designer for Great Bay Community College. “It’s affecting their lives — and those of their children, their families.”    

The college has recently reached an agreement with Lilac Mall owners to add another 10,000 square feet to the laboratory, classroom, and student lounge space in units previously occupied by other businesses.

Mattson said the expansion will allow the college to quadruple the number of advanced composites manufacturing graduates each year. The college currently produces about 60 work-ready graduates per year, and directors expect to increase that number to up to 250 by spring 2016.

The increase is absolutely necessary, said Mattson, as the advanced composites manufacturing industry grows both in New England and around the world.

“We need to graduate at least 200 students a year to meet demand for a growing workforce,” she said. “Most of that need is local ... but we’re also getting calls from as far away as North Carolina and Michigan. They’re looking for people with the exact skills we’re teaching.”

The expansion will allow the Advanced Technology and Academic Center to continue to develop as the only advanced composites manufacturing training center in New Hampshire, with specializations including in 5-axis CNC machining, 3D weaving, 3D printing, resin transfer molding, composites repair and nondestructive testing.

Schematics for the project show bright, open spaces with expansive windows featuring views into the teaching labs. Construction is scheduled to begin in October, with a planned move-in date sometime in February.    

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