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Herkimer BOCES helps introduce students to career opportunities at SUNY Polytechnic Institute Manufacturing Expo
Oct. 16, 2015

Students using welding simulators at manufacturing expo
Owen D. Young students Ryan Jordan, 15, on the left, and Richard Herron, 16, on the right, operate Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES welding simulators at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute Manufacturing Expo on Friday, Oct. 16.

Owen D. Young students Richard Herron, 16, and Ryan Jordan, 15, visited many of the more than 60 local exhibitors at this year’s SUNY Polytechnic Institute Manufacturing Expo including using the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES welding simulators.

“It’s pretty cool,” Richard said, of having so many businesses at the event. “It’s a great way to find out what you’re interested in.”

Ryan also said he liked that there were plenty of manufacturing companies to visit with.

“We can find out what we’d like to do in the future,” he said.

Herkimer BOCES had a large presence at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute Manufacturing Expo on Friday, Oct, 16, with the welding simulators station an exhibit for the new Valley Pathways in Technology Early College High School (VP-TECH) and students in attendance from Herkimer BOCES career and technical education programs, VP-TECH, Pathways Academy at Remington and seven Herkimer BOCES component school districts.

The Herkimer BOCES School to Careers program aims to introduce students to local businesses and career options and arranged for many of the students in the Herkimer BOCES area to attend the event.

“I’m hoping that students across the region are able to be exposed to jobs and careers that are not traditionally what they would think of,” School to Careers Director Christopher Groves said. “Students are getting connections with people directly in the industry. I think those connections – regardless of the students’ grade level – are essential.”

Groves said he liked the setup for this year’s event because of its increased focus on exhibitors and tours.

“This year’s template seems to be more interactive and more student-oriented where students can have more hands-on activities with the partner businesses,” he said.

Frankfort-Schuyler student Phillip Rusev, 12, who also tried out the Herkimer BOCES welding simulators, said he thought the Manufacturing Expo was “great.”

“There’s a lot of stuff to see,” he said. “It’s interesting.”

When VP-TECH Principal Brittany DerCola prepared the VP-TECH exhibit at the event, she didn’t plan to have students with her at the station – instead allowing all of them to visit the businesses in attendance. Some of the students, however, voluntarily spent much of the time at the station talking proudly about VP-TECH, and it gave them a chance to practice presentation skills and the ability to talk to people, DerCola said.

“I’m impressed with what they’re doing,” she said.

The first class of VP-TECH students started this school year and will soon be up to 35 ninth-graders from the 10 Herkimer BOCES component school districts. The students, who spend their full school day at Herkimer BOCES, will be part of VP-TECH for up to six years. They will they will leave with a Regents diploma, an associate degree in quality assurance from Herkimer College, a certification in advanced manufacturing and connections with local businesses.

VP-TECH students Zachary McMahon, 14, of Central Valley Academy, and Tyler LiBritz, 14, of Frankfort-Schuyler, were two of the students who interacted with visitors to the exhibit.

“It’s exciting,” Zachary said, of telling others about VP-TECH. “I like to answer questions.”

Guests were most interested in the 3-D printer VP-TECH brought along and a metal robot with motors and wheels that Zachary, Tyler and a couple of their classmates put together in just three days in preparation for the expo, Zachary said.

Zachary and Tyler raved about VP-TECH.

“I think more people should start joining it, and they should start doing it at all other BOCES,” Zachary said.
Tyler explained that VP-TECH allows students to use technology such as 3-D printers, laptops and iPads in a “flipped classroom,” where students study the material at home and apply it in school.

“I prefer it over a regular school,” Tyler said.

Tyler said he and Zachary are both interested in outer space travel and NASA-related jobs, so they were looking forward to visiting some of the businesses at the expo in that field.

“I can’t wait to get to the aerospace section,” Zachary said.

Students from Frankfort-Schuyler, Poland, West Canada Valley and other districts including some from outside of the Herkimer BOCES region visited the VP-TECH station to learn more about the program, DerCola said, and representatives from local businesses also stopped by the exhibit.

Participating in the Manufacturing Expo is another way for the VP-TECH students to expand their interactions with and knowledge of local companies, DerCola said.

“It gets our kids out there and lets them see the different opportunities out there,” she said. “They’ve toured a couple businesses, but having everyone all in one place shows them how many opportunities there are.”

VP-TECH exhibit at manufacturing expo
Valley Pathways in Technology Early College High School students and staff present about VP-TECH to guests to their exhibit at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute Manufacturing Expo on Friday, Oct. 16.

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