Great Bay Community College’s ATAC initiative wins 2014 NEDA Project of the Year

09/11/2014 by Lisa Proulx

ATAC Advanced Materials Manufacturing Program Director/Designer,  Debra Mattson named Educator of the year

Educator of the Tear Award - Deb MattsonPORTSMOUTH – The Northeast Economic Developer’s Association named, Great Bay Community College’s Advanced Technology & Academic Center, “Project of the Year” on Tuesday, September 8, at its annual conference.  The award recognizes major economic development projects based on job creation, capital investment, leveraging of development resources, use of public/private and/or intergovernmental partnerships and benefits to the surrounding community and/or environment.

Since 1956, NEDA has championed effective and innovative economic & community development practices.  The professional organization’s membership extends throughout the Northeastern United States including Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and the District of Columbia.

“We are proud and grateful for this award which represents the culmination of a lot of hard work by people at both the state and local level” commented Great Bay Community College President, Will Arvelo. “This includes the Governor’s Office, the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development, the City of Rochester, Albany Engineered Composites, Safran, the staff at Great Bay as well as the TAACCCT/AMPedNH grant staff.  It is a true testament to how state and local government, industry and education can partner and collaborate to create opportunity.”

The ATAC project was nominated by the Economic Development Office of the City of Rochester, New Hampshire and was praised for not only contributing to workforce development and training but also for providing a strong model for how the public and private sector working together to address critical needs.  According to Karen Pollard, Rochester Economic Development Manager, Great Bay Community College partnered with the City of Rochester beginning in 2012 on the development of the Advanced Technology & Academic Center (ATAC).  The project was in direct response to a serious need for developing a highly skilled workforce by aerospace manufacturer Safran and Albany Engineered Composites to support the opening of their new 300,000 square foot composite materials facility in Rochester.

ATAC is the largest single project under the statewide Advanced Manufacturing Partnerships in Education initiative (AMPedNH).  Under AmpedNH, NH’s community colleges join forces with more than 100 industry partners, state and federal agencies to deliver dozens of advanced manufacturing training and education programs designed to build skills necessary for success in high tech,high demand, high pay advanced manufacturing careers.  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. In addition, ATAC is also funded by a $4 Million investment from the State of New Hampshire, and also leveraged private sector resources and expertise from Albany Engineered Composites and Safran to complete the project.

“This project represents the new normal in economic development” said Pollard “where a sophisticated new response to future business demand - in particular, a long-term need for employee training - was met through the creation of new partnerships and leveraging a variety of resources at the local, state and federal level.  It’s not the size of the community, but what we can do together that counts.”

During the NEDA ceremony, Advanced Materials Manufacturing Program Director/Designer, Debra Mattson was also presented with the first annual NEDA Richard Kelso Educator of the Year Award.  According to NEDA Executive Director, Jim Keib, the award is presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to their local and/or regional economy as an educational leader by building partnerships between educators, businesses, and economic developers, demonstrating leadership in preparing students for the workforce as well as a long-term commitment to building a more competitive workforce.

In 2012 Mattson was hired to create the new industrial training program in composites materials manufacturing at Great Bay Community College’s Advanced Technology & Academic Center. “Debra helped to build the necessary partnerships between educators, businesses and economic developers needed for program design and implementation” said Karen Pollard, Rochester Economic Development Manager who nominated Mattson for the award. “She has been open to non-traditional learning opportunities and embraces input from business and economic development.  Many of the experiential learning activities incorporated into the Advanced Composites Manufacturing certificate program offered at ATAC are based on employer needs, workplace evaluation methods, and attitudes to support career development.” 

“I am honored to receive this NEDA award” said Mattson “and thank not only NEDA, but the College leadership, our dedicated faculty and staff, subject matter advisors  and industry partners for their support.  I am grateful to be a part of this exciting program making a difference in the lives of our students.” 

Since the opening in March of 2012, ATAC is not only providing skilled manufacturing employees for the 400+ positions needed by Safran and Albany by the end of the decade but for all of New England. They are currently teaching the 6​th cohort of students enrolled in the Advanced Composites Manufacturing Certificate program, graduating students every 4 months.  According to Mattson, out of the 20 students who graduated in May 2014, 17 are currently employed.  The program is poised to grow from 60 graduates the first year to over 200 graduates in year three.