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Maine college gains woodworking grant

School administrators at Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor expect their new federally subsidized fine woodworking and cabinetmaking program to be the solution to providing students with local employment opportunities after graduation.

School officials at Eastern Maine Community College say the federally funded woodworking program will be an asset to students looking for work after graduation.

The school received a $320,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration in June, making it possible to open the program to students this fall. The grant will expand the school’s current building construction program to include a two-year concentration on interior custom woodworking and millwork, allowing graduates to receive an associate’s degree. Prior to the grant, the school offered only general construction and civil engineering courses, with just one limited semester in cabinetmaking.

“We will use the grant money to develop the curriculum for the new program, increase the amount of equipment in our shop, buying the type of machines we do not have for this type of program, and subsidize instruction for the first two years,” says department chairman Les Stackpole.

The grant application required Stackpole to align with a local employer. He selected The Hinckley Company, a boatbuilder in Trenton, Maine.

“Hinckley started hiring our students after graduation years ago and they have about 12 to 15 of our students in their cabinet shop right now. Their quality and craftsmanship is world-renowned. They have an international clientele. It’s a very good opportunity for our students once they graduate,” he says.

“We’re also looking at other cabinet shops and woodworking facilities in Maine to improve their craftsmanship and find employees for them. There seems to be a big demand for that right now.”

Instructor Armand Auclair says students will first learn about hand tools and acquire design skills and then get extensive training with CNC equipment. An additional emphasis will be placed on material selection and finishing.

“The partnership with The Hinckley Company will add to developing the students’ skills by incorporating marine carpentry skills like veneering and CNC routing and varnishing and finishing,” says Auclair.

Applications are currently being accepted. There is a maximum enrollment of 20 students and about 80 to 90 percent are expected to be from Maine.

Contact: Eastern Maine Community College. Tel: 207-974-4684.

This article originally appeared in the September 2012 issue.

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