AUBURN — A new three-week course, focused on the basic skills required for entry-level work at General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works, comes with specific tools, safety gear, what amounts to a weekly paycheck and a job interview upon completion.

Dwayne Conway, the dean of Workforce Development at Central Maine Community College, said it’s an exciting opportunity for students who want a quick and direct path to a good-paying job at one of the biggest defense contractors in the world.

“It’s really like a hands-on course where folks learn different aspects like technical math, welding, oxy cutting how to lay out projects,” he said.

Amber Hodgkins grinds metal to smooth a weld during a 2023 welding class at Central Maine Community College. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal file

Conway said BIW considered offering the training at its shipbuilding facility in Bath but came to the realization that it would be easier for students to enroll and attend the classes at CMCC’s Auburn campus rather than commit to the 45-minute commute. Conway said he understands that the defense contractor draws more employees from Androscoggin County than from Cumberland County.

The new course — manufacturing technology short-term training — is a total of 120 hours. That’s why BIW is offering a $500 “attendance incentive” every week.

Conway said it’s a commitment. “You’re here for three weeks, 40 hours a week, so you need to show up on time and be ready to learn and earn.”


Up to 100 students will be enrolled for the first class, slated to begin July 15. Students will be split into five groups, or cohorts, and rotate through classes that will include technical math, hand and power tool operation and safety, operation of air tools, oxy cutting, track welding, drilling and fastening and other manufacturing skills.

There is no cost to students for the course and no previous experience in the field is needed. Students wanting to enroll must be 18 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalent. Personal protective gear will be provided and after successfully completing the course they will also receive some basic hand tools at no cost.

Workers, seen in 2021, walk across the aft deck of an Arleigh Burke destroyer at Bath Iron Works. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer/file

Bath Iron Works will also provide help with instruction and Conway expects the defense contractor to become more involved with the training as the course develops.

CMCC plans to offer the course on an ongoing basis beginning every four weeks.

“The goal is really to get folks trained up and many of them will likely work for BIW,” Conway said Wednesday. “They’ll have an interview at the end of the training.”

The interview process will help students who graduate from the course decide what path in manufacturing they want to pursue — either as an electrician, pipe fitter, welder or other skilled trade.

Conway said most of the funding for the course is coming from General Dynamics, with other money coming from the Harold Alfond Center for the Advancement of Maine’s Workforce and the Maine Quality Centers.

Those interested should contact Kerry Fitzgerald, student navigator, at or call 207-755-5229.

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