New composites training facility to open in New Hampshire

Albany Engineered Composites and Safran Aerospace Composites will co-locate a new manufacturing plant at the Advanced Technology & Academic Center, in Rochester, N.H., which will provide training in composite materials and fabrication.

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Great Bay Community College (Portsmouth, N.H.) announces the opening of its new campus in Rochester.  The 17,000 square-foot Advanced Technology & Academic Center (ATAC) will provide programs in advanced composites manufacturing starting June 17th.  Great Bay’s new Advanced Technology & Academic Center is the largest single project under the statewide Advanced Manufacturing Partnership in Education initiative, formed by the Community College System of New Hampshire under a $20M federal  grant.

The College’s  new Advanced Composites Manufacturing curriculum has been developed to fit the needs of area manufacturers, among those, Albany Engineered Composites (AEC) and Safran Aerospace Composites (SAC), who will be co-locating a new manufacturing plant in Rochester at the Granite State Business Park.  The plant is being built by SAC and is expected to add about 500 jobs to the local market.  It is scheduled to start operations later this summer. 

Debra Mattson, Advanced Manufacturing Program Director and Designer for Great Bay describes the training as structured around a six month tiered program. “At the end of the six months, full-time students earn a certificate in Composites Manufacturing and are qualified for positions as high level machine operators with options for continuing  into an Associate Degree in Technical Studies.  It’s a great way to get into the aerospace industry.”  Students first take three courses: Introduction to Advanced Composites, Applied Math & Measuring for Manufacturing and Technical Blueprint Reading.  At the end that term, they identify an area of interest and start training for positions as high level machine operators/technicians in one of eight areas of specialization. These include: paint operator; 3D weaving and preform finishing technician; resin transfer molding technician; bonding/finishing operator; quality inspection and coordinate measuring machine operator; and composites milling/CNC set-up operator. In addition, training for aerospace composites repair technician and high-performance composites fabrication technician career tracks or positions will be offered. 

During the program, students will spend half their time doing hands-on work in the center’s state-of-the art composites lab. According to Mattson, the lab will house the newest equipment for high tech composites manufacturing including a clean room, autoclave, RTM press, curing oven, a 3D-weaving loom, a full range of CAD, CAM, 3D printer, CNC and CMM equipment as well as other commonly-recognized equipment used in aerospace manufacturing facilities. The lab is slated for completion by the end of this summer. 

A full-time instructor, a lab technician as well as five adjunct faculty have been hired for the new training program. During the course development phase and lab installation, they will be supported by internationally recognized composites expert Andre Cocquyt. In addition, the program will take advantage of on-line course content such as that offered by SME-owned ToolingU, an on-line education provider. This will provide future alignment with the SME certification program.  To make the public more aware of the composites industry and aerospace composites manufacturing at Safran and Albany, as well as  job trends, Great Bay will be hosting free informational session on Advanced Composites Manufacturing on June 7th and 8th at the new ATAC Center. At the event Andre Cocquyt will provide information on the composites industry and representatives from SAC and AEC will be on hand to talk about their companies, the aircraft engine components they are manufacturing in Rochester, and the job opportunities at their new plant opening this summer.  To register, those interested can call (603)-427-7700.

The public will also have an opportunity to view the new ATAC Center at a Grand Opening celebration scheduled for July 11th from 5:00-7:00PM.  In addition to tours, the celebration will include information stations, and refreshments and entertainment provided by Rochester community partners. Governor Maggie Hassan and other dignitaries will be on hand to officiate the formal opening of the center. 

“We can’t lose young people (to other states) or fail to grow the work force,” Governor Maggie Hassan said at the Tri-Chambers State of the State breakfast earlier this year where she praised Great Bay, AEC and SAC for doing a great job nurturing industry/education partnerships.  “We must unlock the talent and energy in every person and … come together, solve problems and move our state forward. “Let’s seize this innovative moment, invest in critical things and remind the world we are the best state in the best country in the world.”

Registration is now open for the Fall semester for both traditional academic courses (starting September 2nd) and the Advanced Manufacturing program courses begin on (June 17th and September 3rd.)  For more information, students can contact Jeff Pruyne, Enrollment & Outreach Counselor, 603-427-7735 or 1-800-522-1194 or email:  For more information on the ATAC Center visit