July 29, 2013

ANSON SMITH AT 203-332-5229 OR EDWINA LUCENIUS AT 203-450-2175

Stratford Woman Finds “Incredible Opportunity”
Through HCC Advanced Mfg. Program

First Female Graduate

Credits Faculty for Her Success

Edwina Lucenius of Stratford (left), the first female graduate of Housatonic Community College’s new Advanced Manufacturing Program, chats with U.S. Rep Jim Himes (D-5th Dist.) (center) and State Rep. Tony Hwang (R-134th Dist.). Lucenius said the program offers an “incredible opportunity”.

BRIDGEPORT - When Bridgeport native and Stratford resident Edwina Lucenius joined HCC’s new Advanced Manufacturing Program a year ago, she was looking for a way to get a job. What she found was an “incredible career opportunity” in nondestructive testing, a field she didn’t know existed.

“I was an executive secretary in New Jersey and it was a very good job,” said Lucenius, who is the first and only woman to go through the program. “However, when my mother got sick, I came home – only to discover nobody was hiring secretaries any more.
So I started looking elsewhere.”

“Elsewhere” led her to an orientation session for the program, where she met Academic Coordinator Bill Griffin. Once she indicated an interest, Griffin took over, guiding her through the application process.

“It was curiosity that brought me to the program,” she said. “I’ve always been fascinated with how things are put together. I’ve always wanted to learn.”

Once she was in the program, she met director Mike Gugger, who, along with other faculty members, guided her and other students through the program. Last but not least, she met Outreach Coordinator Gene LaPorta, who helped pave the way for her job.
“I call them the Tripod of Power,” she said. “Bill, who had long wanted to see a manufacturing program at HCC, got me into the program. Mike, a man who knows manufacturing from the bottom up ‑ from sweeping shavings off the factory floor to heading the program, kept us in the program and Gene, who knows how to get things done, helped get me out of the program.”

Gugger and the other faculty members are what made the difference for the students, she said. “Mike Gugger was awesome,” she said. “Many people can teach. But, it takes someone special to take the words off a page and make them come alive for the students. Mike and the other faculty members were able to do this.”

As she was nearing the end of the second course, LaPorta called her and told her of a job opening at RBC-Heim Bearings of Fairfield. “Gene found the opportunity and set up the interview: I just went,” she said.

During the interview, Lucenius and the interviewer discussed a new opening in nondestructive testing, an effective, cost-effective method of detecting product defects and damage. “I was fascinated by it and I said so,” Lucenius said, “She excused herself, picked up the phone, dialed a number, and said, ‘I think we just found who we’re looking for.’” Once the job was posted internally and there were no takers, it was hers.

Lucenius praised the manufacturing program for its breadth. “Although I found my niche, it’s reassuring to know I’m able to run any machine in the company,” she said.

The two-certificate Advanced Manufacturing Program, which demands a 35-hour per week commitment from students, prepares them for high-tech advanced manufacturing positions that include machine operator, CNC (Computer Numeric Control) operator, CNC programmer, assembler, and Quality Control inspector. These can pay in the $15-$20 per-hour range.

The 16-credit basic manufacturing certificate courses will be offered during the Fall semester while the 18-credit advanced manufacturing certificate courses will be offered in the Spring. The basic manufacturing certificate track includes courses in Computer-aided Design (CAD), blueprint reading; drill, press and saw operation; grinding; bench work; lathe operation; milling; and CNC. While providing the foundation to pursue the advanced manufacturing certificate, the basic certificate will also include training in math for manufacturing, lean manufacturing, metrology, computer applications, and careers in manufacturing.

The advanced certificate includes advanced courses in manufacturing math and blueprint reading; principles of quality control; and advanced manufacturing machinery courses in lathe operation, milling, and CNC.

Lucenius praises the program for opening her eyes to career possibilities in manufacturing. “The entire area of manufacturing is a diamond in the dust,” she said. “You would never think that working with your hands would be so incredible.”

“I love my job,” she said, “even though I never knew it existed!”

For more information, a facility tour and an application, contact Bill Griffin (203-332-5056) or Mike Gugger (203-332-5963). Act now: The program is filling fast. The semester starts Aug. 28.