Southern has teamed up with the New Haven Manufacturers' Association (NHMA) to sponsor a three-day program acquainting area science teachers with modern manufacturing and materials engineering methods.
The Materials & Manufacturing Summer Teachers' Institute, a collaboration that also includes Platt Technical High School in Milford and CRISP (Center for Research on Interface Structures and Phenomena at Yale University and Southern), attracted 30 science teachers from grades 7 to 9.
"This is a novel partnership that has created an opportunity for teachers to learn how products are made, as well as to enhance their awareness of manufacturing careers and how the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) relate to manufacturing," says Robert Klancko, a member of the NHMA Board of Directors.
In turn, Klancko says, this program will enable teachers to better educate middle school students about the relationship between STEM and manufacturing and what types of careers are available in the manufacturing field. He adds that this is so important because students often decide as early as the middle school years whether or not to pursue math and science in high school, college and even in terms of career paths.
Christine Broadbridge, chairwoman of the Physics Department and education director at CRISP, says area manufacturers and academics have been working for the past year to bring teachers, engineers and scientists together in more effective ways.
"We've learned from the teachers that they value relationships with industry," Broadbridge says. "At this institute, the teachers have found out about potential careers for their students as they learn about engineering and cutting-edge science. It has given them an opportunity to network with industry leaders and to gain hands-on knowledge about manufacturing. We hope they can bring that excitement back to their students."
Broadbridge says the institute is a pilot program that organizers would like to offer annually. More than 40 Connecticut teachers applied to attend the program, which could only accommodate 30 this summer. Southern is offering a new master's degree in applied physics this year.
On the first day of the institute, held at Southern, manufacturing engineers conducted programs on materials science and discussed the importance of STEM education.