Great Bay College Students Build Carbon Fibre Bridge

Students who signed up to the Advanced Composites Manufacturing Certificate program at Great Bay Community College’s Advanced Technology and Academic Centre (ATAC) in Rochester, recently completed a new High Performance Fabrication course.

Added in February, the course is part of a new specialisation within the 6-month Advanced Composites Manufacturing Certificate (ACM) program which provides students with industrial training for employment in composites materials manufacturing.

Over the 4 week course, students were asked to manufacture a bridge part using processes of oven curing of carbon fibre prepreg and infusion for fibreglass parts. During the final class, parts were assembled to create a 14 foot long bridge.

The project tested the students knowledge of fibre orientation, flow behaviour, mould use, and curing processes, as well as incorporation of applied math, physics, chemistry, and measurement. In a small period of time the candidates had to learn new processes, before applying the knowledge to create a product consisting of multiple parts. This work required manual dexterity, pre-planning, writing of work instructions, time management, problem solving, and revising.

According to Debra Mattson, Advanced Materials Manufacturing Program Director/Designer at Great Bay’s Advanced Technology And Academic Centre, the new course meets the training needs for a wide segment of the composites industry

By teaching student the skills to use all the customary materials, tools and equipment for the manufacturing of high performance composites, they see firsthand what manufacturing processes are happening each day in industries including aerospace, automotive, high-end marine, and consumer goods.

Along with High Performance Fabrication, students enrolled in the ACM Certificate program can also choose from other areas of concentration including Paint Operator, Weaving Technician and Preform Finishing, Resin Transfer Moulding Technician, Bonding and Finishing Operator, Quality Inspection and CMM Operator, Composites CNC Milling and Set-up Operator and Composites Repair Technician.

The college is currently teaching the 9th cohort of students enrolled in the Advanced Composites Manufacturing Certificate program, graduating students every 4 months. According to Mattson, out of the 25 students who graduated in May 2014, 21 are currently employed. The program is poised to grow from 60 graduates the first year to over 200 graduates in year three.

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