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From the Desk of Jack Healy

The New Worcester Vocational School: A Story of Persistence and Innovation

By Jack Healy, Director, Manufacturing Advancement Center, jackh@massmep.org

Someone once said that they did not believe in circumstances; rather, they believed that the people who get on in this world are those who make their own circumstances. The history of American Manufacturing is filled with people who made their own circumstances. But it has evolved into today’s tendency to generally accept what may come. So, when we see someone who goes out of their way to make their own circumstances, we notice them because they stand out in the crowd.

One such person is Ted Coghlin, Chairman of Coghlin Electric, in Worcester Massachusetts. Ted views the employee skills shortage that is facing all manufacturing, from Maine to Connecticut, as an issue that needs some doing. So he decided to make his own circumstances.

Ted got involved in the local Worcester Vocational School system, initially recruiting for, then leading a number of industry advisory boards. When anyone complained to Ted about not being able to find “qualified workers,” Ted would always ask if they were involved in the Vocational School System. The message got through and resulted in the subsequent development of the Worcester Vocational School System, with a waiting list of over 500 students.

The Worcester Vocational School is a big project. Not surprisingly, there has been a number of NIMBY project delays and continued inflationary construction costs that caused the entire school budget to be consumed just for construction. This left no money for classroom technologies and equipment. This led Ted Coghlin to personally initiate and lead a capital campaign that raised $3 million dollars from a number of local businesses. All monies collected will be matched by the State on a nine to one basis, for an unprecedented total of $30 million dollars that will now be available to the new school for technology and other state of the art equipment.

From a project that was at a hopeless standstill and over budget, we now have a state of the art vocational school that is expected to lead the nation. All because Ted refused to accept the circumstances. The following is Ted Coghlin’s description of how the new Worcester Vocational H.S will help solve industry’s skills shortage.

The New Worcester Vocational School: The Latest Technologies, Ahead of Schedule

By Ted Coghlin, Chairman of the Board, Coghlin Construction

“Wow!” Terrific!” “State of the Art.” “Quality job.” These are common expressions heard from One Skyline Drive as people tour the new Worcester Vocational School. The $90 million construction project is ahead of schedule and will open the Summer of 2006. Over 50% of the tradespeople building the 400,000 square foot, five-building campus are vocational school graduates. Their pride in a job well constructed is evident by the quality of the product.

Manufacturing training will be housed in the Alden Academy building. The ideas, suggestions, and technologies recommended by the advisory board members of the Academy are being implemented. As a result, training on the latest “state of the art” equipment, especially computer and information technology applications, will be taught.

Four time periods, three specifically accommodating manufacturing schedules, will be open to area companies:

  • 6-8 am: Two hour segments can be scheduled for shop procedures, safety, or applications, each specific to needs of a company or group of companies.
  • 3-6 pm and 6-10 pm: Classrooms, labs, shops, and all technology equipment and school areas can be scheduled for manufacturer employee training, seminars, and group meetings.
  • Weekends and weeks when school is not in session: Facilities are available for customized education to meet manufacturer needs.

A 120 seat restaurant and 20 seat private dining room, lecture halls, a fully functional bank, and numerous other amenities await to serve the area manufacturers.

The Alden building houses HARR Automotive Technical Center (16 bays with many services), auto collision, manufacturing technology (including robot technology), metals and welding technology, and the latest and greatest CAD CAM equipment and electrical/mechanical technology. A complete router and server network are also available, supplemented with video/audio manuals and training products to enhance learning.

Since the equipment recommendations have all been advisor generated, only the best and the latest technologies will be used throughout the facility. Hands-on training on all equipment, as well as IT systems, will occur every day throughout the year.

We welcome suggestions from industry, equipment recommendations, and especially personal participation in order to continue our proud tradition of excellence and keep the Worcester area’s economic engine at full throttle through capable, qualified, vocational school graduates.

As always, we can use financial donations, too. This is industry’s school where we will train our employees to help our businesses improve. As they improve their abilities and gain knowledge and confidence in their chosen careers, the vocational students and employees who attend this school will have open to them many pathways and articulation agreements to area colleges.

For more information, contact:

Peter Crafts, (508) 799-1140, e-mail: craftspc@worc.k12.ma.us
Ted Coghlin, (508) 793-0300, e-mail: tedcoghlin@coghlin.com

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