HECA - Hamden Engineering Careers Academy

Hamden Engineering Careers Academy Logo

The Hamden Engineering Careers Academy (HECA) is a Hamden High School program. HECA students have the opportunity to learn manufacturing workforce skills while working towards their Associate’s of Science in Manufacturing Engineering, or a Manufacturing workforce certificate, all while enrolled in high school! 

HECA is an innovative dual-enrollment program with our partners at Gateway Community College. 

Program enrollment is by application only. Application for the program is open to current 8th and 9th grade students (rising 9th and 10th graders), and are available each year in February and March, and must be completed by the due date to be considered. 

The rigorous program will stretch the school year into some Summer work, to ensure that students get access to all the required experiences and content. In Summer Session 1 students will be required to attend a two-week Manufacturing and Engineering in the Real World summer workshop at Gateway Community College’s New Haven campus. 

Meet Our Wonderful HECA Teachers!


Mr. Gabe Jenkins

Mr. Jenkins, HECA Teacher

Gabe Jenkins is in his 3rd year at Hamden High School, and with over 20 years of experience in education, was the first instructor working with the HECA program.  Before coming to Hamden High, Mr. Jenkins worked as both a science teacher and as the STEM Academic Dean at Amistad Academy MS, and before that, taught science in Oakland, CA.  As part of the HECA team, Mr. Jenkins has worked to develop, adapt, and implement the Gateway Community College curricula for several of the program’s courses, including Technical Drafting, Manufacturing Processes, Introduction to CAD, 2D CAD and 3D CAD, and HECA Career Development.  He has also been responsible for developing and running the HECA “Summer Camp,” HECA’s community-building and educational introduction program for new-to-HECA students.  Although often mimicked, Mr. Jenkins is the originator of “Have a HECA great day!”

Outside of HECA, Mr. Jenkins is an involved member of the Hamden community: he’s lived in Hamden for over a decade with his wife and two children, both of whom attend school in Hamden.  In his free time (such as it is), he likes to experiment with cooking, home-improvement projects, woodworking, and just being outside, when he’s not doggedly working on puzzle games or watching Arsenal football return to glory in the English Premier League. 

Mr. Bobby Sanchez

Mr Bobby Sanchez HECA Teacher

Bobby Sanchez began his professional career in the software and tech industry and transitioned into teaching in 2016. He has a wealth of experience in computer design, architectural design and engineering principles.  He has been a teacher in Hamden Public Schools for one year and before coming to Hamden, Mr. Sanchez worked as the Project Lead the Way teacher in CT Regional School District 4.  (Project Lead the Way is a series of hands-on STEM courses taught across the country, and that we use at Hamden High School for our Engineering classes.) 

As a product of the Chicago Public School district himself, Mr. Sanchez sought out HECA as an opportunity to work with a diverse student population and offer educational advancement opportunities in the field of engineering to minority students.

Outside of HECA, Mr. Sanchez devotes his time to working with student-athletes as a football and basketball coach. He currently is a varsity assistant football coach at Middletown High School and he also coached Eli Whitney Varsity girls' basketball this past winter. In his free time, Mr. Sanchez likes traveling, playing softball/basketball, and working on home improvement projects. At home, his wife Brittany and he spend time with their two daughters Ryan (2) and Addison (1) as well as their two dogs, Banks and Koda, and their cat Ferguson.

HECA Information Center

For more information about HECA, contact HECA Program Director, Dan Cocchiola. 

CT Businesses!

Manufacturing and CNC Machine Image
Are you a CT engineering or manufacturing business interested in having HECA students serve as pre-apprentices and/or future employees?  

Our students will be looking for their Pre-Apprenticeships starting this summer.  Find out about our Pre-Apprenticeship program or
contact us for more information!