German manufacturer Siemens is giving Connecticut's community colleges manufacturing and product design software that has a commercial value of $315 million, boosting their capabilities at a time when companies in the marine and other industries are reporting workforce shortages.
The software grant — the largest in-kind donation in the network of schools’ history — is intended to help better prepare a highly skilled workforce for the advanced manufacturing industry.
"This is great news for our system, but especially for our students," Connecticut State Colleges and Universities president Mark Ojakian told the Hartford Courant. "We are grateful for this in-kind grant from Siemens, which enhances the quality of the education experience our students receive.”
Siemens’ software helps manufacturers design, develop and make sophisticated products, according to a statement from the CSCU system. It's used in a variety of industries, including aerospace and defense, industrial machinery and heavy equipment, shipbuilding, medical devices, electronics and semiconductor sectors.
Students in the advanced manufacturing technology centers at Three Rivers, Manchester, Asnuntuck and Gateway community colleges will have access to the software. The program is expected to expand to all of the state's 12 community colleges during the next 18 months.
"Through this partnership, Connecticut's community college students will gain real-world experience on the same software and technology that's used by some of Connecticut's most innovative companies, opening the doors to rewarding [science , technology, engineering, math]-based careers," Siemens PLM Software president and CEO Tony Hemmelgarn said.
In 2014 Siemens made a similar software grant worth $660 million to Massachusetts manufacturing programs at vocational high schools, technical community colleges and universities.
Dave Russell, director of advanced manufacturing at Manchester Community College, said the grant will give students job-ready skills "to compete in the resurging advanced manufacturing field."