Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education Interim President Philip E. Austin announced on Monday that Middlesex Community College (MxCC) in Middletown was awarded a $2.5 million U.S. Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Act Community College and Career Training (TAACCT) Grant for a New Media Studies initiative to help establish and support specific pathways in this growing career field.
This funding is in addition to $12 million awarded last September from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities health and life sciences consortium grant. The New Media Studies initiative will focus on an interdisciplinary approach, combining faculty expertise and curriculum across three distinct program areas of the college — broadcast cinema, communication and multi-media studies.
“The announcement of the second U.S. DOL grant in as many months is wonderful news and will help provide new education and training opportunities for our students in key industry areas that call Connecticut home,” said Austin in a press release. “Federal resources provided by these grants, leveraged with the expertise provided by local Connecticut companies, will help our students get the training for which our industry partners are looking, and help strengthen our relationships with the private sector. It’s critical that our institutions are partners in Connecticut’s economic development and workforce efforts, and this program is a perfect example.”
“I’m excited by all the major grants that the college will be receiving,” said Kevin Wilhelm, chair of the Regional Advisory Council. “It confirms that the college, under the excellent leadership of President Anna Wasescha, is successfully keeping pace with the ever changing educational needs of people in the region. The college continues to position itself for a bright future and, more importantly, a bright future for its students.”
It is expected that the New Media Studies initiative will allow students to take a number of courses across academic areas including communication technology, history, design, and the theory and communication of information. This initiative will help prepare students to be technologically capable, articulate thinkers and creative media professionals. It will also provide an interdisciplinary, experiential approach to learning that emphasizes creativity, critical thinking, teamwork and entrepreneurship. MxCC currently oversees a broadcast cinema program unique to the state’s community colleges and was a past awardee of the Connecticut Film Training Program overseen by the Office of Workforce Competitiveness.
A recent report by the Connecticut Technology Council — The Connecticut Competitiveness Agenda Project, 2012 — highlights major issues in Connecticut Job Growth technology firms and “recognizes that there is great difficulty in finding talented young workers outside of Stamford and New Haven, a strong need to foster greater entrepreneurship, and a need for greater commitment from the state and state partners including education. The report explained that the vast majority of new jobs are created by a small number of very fast-growing firms and everyone is competing to start, attract and keep these companies and the leaders who create and run them.” At other higher education institutions throughout the United States hosting New Media Centers, there is greater synergy, interest and spur of innovative talent which leads to a significant number of spin-off companies within New Media as well the growth of a new talent pipeline of workers for tomorrow’s New Media economy. The opportunity for students within New Media Studies at the two-year associate degree level will bring greater numbers of graduates into the media workforce in occupations such as graphic design, audio and visual arts, social media, gaming and simulation, web publication and instructional technology. Representative fields include education, entertainment, advertising, journalism, promotion, media research and advocacy.
Grant funds will be used to reallocate existing campus space; review, analyze and enhance existing curriculum; collaborate with industry experts such as ESPN and other companies throughout Connecticut; purchase appropriate equipment; and establish a stronger collaboration with the New Haven Innovation Hub Ecosystem.