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New Aerospace & Manufacturing Center opening at Middletown HS as industry struggles amid pandemic


MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH) — A new Aerospace and Manufacturing Center is opening at Middletown High School complete with new labs and a new program. This comes at a time when aerospace is struggling.

News 8 was able to take a tour of the new laboratories and classrooms Wednesday that Middletown has dedicated to aerospace manufacturing and engineering.

The new lab prepares high school students for manufacturing as well as college. The new program aims to create that enthusiasm and excitement for aerospace, so as the COVID-19 pandemic trails off and the industry ramps back up, these students will be excited about their job opportunities.

Addison Pina, a senior told News 8, “All I have to do is do my part and take advantage and do what I have to do to succeed.”

The school is partnering with Sikorsky to continue to push aerospace further.

Jarod Hoadley, also a senior added, “I’m learning the joy of not only flying planes but building them.”

Not only are they opening up the cockpit doors but the minds of the students. They do get to fly in this class, they also get to do manufacturing.

As the students work and learn in the lab, their minds are also on COVID and how that is affecting the job market.

RELATED: Pratt & Whitney announce layoffs of salaried employees due to pandemic

“It’s hard to see, but I know in the future in the next few years it’s going to be booming again, and they are going to be plenty of jobs and it will be a great opportunity,” Cheyenne Fuoco, a senior said.

This comes on the heels of an announcement Pratt & Whitney plans to lay off 15,000 people, hundreds of them coming here in Connecticut.

The layoffs are on the commercial airline side, not the military side. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions, people are not traveling and there’s less need for engines.

But Governor Ned Lamont says it’s important to keep pushing forward and that’s why they are happy to announce this new partnership for the high school students.

“The numbers are scary but the numbers are worldwide,” Gov. Lamont said. “Here in Connecticut is a lot more limited but every lost job is someone we need to find a job for.”

RELATED: Bradley Intl. Airport asking Gov. Lamont to ease some COVID-19 restrictions for travelers in hopes travel will pick up

“COVID is COVID, and we are going to be extraordinarily careful,” Gov. Lamont added. “But there’s a future, it starts now, and [continues] after COVID. Manufacturing is growing in the state and going forward. And there is some great opportunity. These kids can’t stop their lives because of COVID.”

Terrell Johnson, a senior explained, “It’s definitely a struggle, but thanks to all the teachers and staff there helping us get through it. “

“It’s like we’re in a big storm but on different boats, but it’s adjustable: you attach, you detach, and you get used to life,” Nyenah West said.

Pratt & Whitney is anticipating somewhere around 400 layoffs here in Connecticut, but the governor says Pratt & Whitney is working very hard to ship those jobs to the military side where they may have some openings to keep their staff employed.

“The military side is going strong and Pratt & Whitney is trying to do their part redeploying people to the military side to keep them employed,” Gov. Lamont said.

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