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Manufacturing Day tours show VP-TECH students
workplace connections to their education

Oct. 5, 2015

Valley Pathways in Technology Early College High School students recently saw first-hand that what they’re learning in the classroom directly translates to work being done at local advanced manufacturing companies.

Some of the classroom-to-workplace connections the VP-TECH students saw when they visited CTM Corp. in Frankfort and Riverhawk Co. in New Hartford on Friday, Oct. 2, for Manufacturing Day, were the importance of teamwork and the applications of using design software for three-dimensional printers.

VP-TECH students Michael Ford, 15, of West Canada Valley, and Flynn Bliss, 15, of Dolgeville, said it really hit home when they saw CTM Corp. using a high-end 3-D printer.

“CTM had a huge 3-D printer, and we use a 3-D printer,” Michael said, before Flynn chimed in.

“Yeah, it was cool,” Flynn said. “It was kind of like, ‘Hey, I use that.’ We’re actually using something that we can see is being used in real life.”

The first class of VP-TECH students started this school year and is made up of 32 ninth-graders from the 10 Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES component school districts. The students, who spend their full school day at Herkimer BOCES, will be part of VP-TECH for four-and-a-half to six years. They will they will leave with a Regents diploma, an associate degree in quality assurance from Herkimer College and a certification in advanced manufacturing.

P-TECH schools across the state were asked to participate in Manufacturing Day on Friday, Oct. 2, and VP-TECH students visited CTM Corp. and Riverhawk Co. because they’re local advanced manufacturing companies that would be able to host all of the students, VP-TECH Principal Brittany DerCola said.

“I think they enjoyed being out, and I think it was nice to see the connections to what they’re doing in class,” DerCola said.

The students first visited Riverhawk Co., and they broke up into small groups for tours with engineers, who told the students about what their jobs are like. They visited a quality assurance lab, where workers were testing the measurements of products they manufacture and comparing the blueprints with how they came out. The students were able to touch the materials and pick things up.

After an hour-and-a-half visit at Riverhawk and lunch in the Riverhawk staff room, the students traveled to CTM Corp. for a one-hour tour. They visited the CTM Corp. quality assurance lab, saw the large 3-D printer there and were able to use a machine with a laser to make etchings on pieces of metal. The students were impressed to see that CTM Corp. makes parts for Remington Arms, for the hydraulics for yachts for the American Cup and for NASA’s Phoenix Mars Rover.

The owners of both companies also talked to students – including about job prospects. The companies did a great job of showing all that they offer as far as employment – from sales to marketing to product engineering, DerCola said.

The tour guides discussed how they often work together in groups on projects, which is a focus of VP-TECH, DerCola said. Students also talked with workers who were using Solidworks 3-D CAD software for designing, and students will be using the same software after they master basic design software, DerCola said.

“They got to see a lot of what they’re doing in class in real life,” she said. “It’s reinforcing what we’re doing here, so it was good for the kids to see it.”

The visit also showed that with quality assurance, you’re also out on the floor interacting with other workers, so it’s important that you understand the advanced manufacturing side of things in order to do your quality assurance job better, DerCola said. The students additionally enjoyed seeing that the jobs can allow you to work on some pretty cool things and not necessarily always making the same products, she said.

Flynn said he thought it was interesting to learn about the whole process of being an engineer for the workers they met. The trip affected his overall thoughts on the advanced manufacturing and quality assurance industry, he said.

“It made me like it a little bit more; be more excited,” Flynn said. “It was a good trip and educational.”

Michael said one thing that particularly interested him was seeing large machines that create other products if you learn how to program the machines.

The trip showed examples of work options for the students, Michael said.

“We got to see what kind of things we’d be able to go into,” he said.

VP-TECH student Daniel Cioch, 14, of Central Valley, said he was most interested in seeing that CTM Corp. makes parts for NASA.

“That’s something I want to do,” Daniel said.

Daniel also noticed that employees were doing group work and using design software that students will use in class, he said. Seeing all of that in action helps highlight the importance of what they’re learning at VP-TECH, he said.

“It will definitely prepare us more for the workforce,” he said.

VP-TECH student Zachary McMahon, 14, of Central Valley, also said he is interested in creating products for NASA and enjoyed many aspects of the trip.

“I just found it very fun to learn what we could be doing later on with a job,” he said. “I’m excited to start working right now.”

VP-TECH students outside of CTM Corp.
Valley Pathways in Technology Early College High School students pose for a photo by the “now hiring” sign outside of CTM Corp. in Frankfort after touring the facility on Friday, Oct. 2, for Manufacturing Day. The VP-TECH students also visited Riverhawk Co. in New Hartford.

VP-TECH students at Riverhawk
Valley Pathways in Technology Early College High School students Maggie Charles, of Central Valley; Eliza Marusic, of Herkimer, and Ben Popiel, of Little Falls, look on as a quality assurance worker examines products at Riverhawk Co. in New Hartford. The VP-TECH students visited Riverhawk Co. and CTM Corp. in Frankfort on Friday, Oct. 2, for Manufacturing Day.

VP-TECH students inside CTM Corp. in Frankfort
Valley Pathways in Technology Early College High School students Maggie Charles, of Central Valley; Zachary Parmon, of Herkimer, and Cameron Maida, of Poland, operate a machine at CTM Corp. in Frankfort to make etchings in metal using a laser. VP-TECH students visited CTM Corp. and Riverhawk Co. in New Hartford on Friday, Oct. 2, for Manufacturing Day.

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