Clean technology, 3Dprinting and scanners, along with mentors, will be game-changer for manufacturing sector
BY KATHY KAHN
Students who like to work with their hands as well as their minds are increasingly drawn to new manufacturing technology programs and the one blossoming in Rockland couldn’t find a better time to introduce its new “clean tech” training center than on Friday, October 4, National Manufacturing Day.
Rockland Community College’s Haverstraw extension is doubling in size, growing an additional 9,000 square feet of space that will include six new class/training rooms, four CAD (computer aided design) workstations with SolidWorks software, four 3D printers, a 3D laser scanner and a science/wet lab.
The $1.5 million initiative is being supported by Ginsberg Development Corp.; Rockland’s Industrial Development Agency; The Center for Global Advanced Manufacturing (CGAM); SUNY 2020: and SUNY WORKS. Funding is also coming from the U.S. Department of Labor through its TAACIT (Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Training Program.) grant program.
Partially completed, work is progressing rapidly to construct classrooms where RCC students will have access will be learning advanced manufacturing techniques with tutoring and mentoring provided by the college, ICAN (International Cleantech Accelerator Network), Rockand’s Small Business Development Corp., SCORE (Retired Business Executives), Center for Global Advanced Manufacturing and others. Employment support for students learning and mastering the new technology will be aided through RCC Career Services & Academic Advisement, as well as the Workforce Investment Board.
The new RCC Advanced Manufacturing program will be a boon to the small manufacturing companies as well. “The doors are open for small business to learn about the new technology, use the 3D printers and also have access to the CAD workstations,” said Vincent Cozzolino, vice president of FALA Technologies, based in Kingston, which is partnering with CGAM on another “Smart Lab” at Gateway Industries in Kingston.
“The SolidWorks software for the CAD stations is very expensive—many cannot afford to buy it. This way, they will be able to use the technology and learn about how it can help enhance their business,” added Meyer. “This is an opportunity for seasoned business owners and students to work together in the ‘sandbox.'”
“With more than 100,000 jobs unfilled in the manufacturing sector due to the lack of workers trained in new “clean-tech” professions is an initiative New York has made a serious commitment to,” said SUNY’s Vice Chancellor Johanna Duncan-Poitier told dozens of business and community leaders at the unveiling of the new technology center.
Dr. Cliff Wood, RCC’s president, was credited for “going for the gold,” by Poitier, Martin Ginsberg and several others. “He really takes education and advancement for students seriously and has made a commitment to bringing the best to them—he’s really an exceptional leader,” said developer Martin Ginsberg.
Wood himself says he eventually hopes to see RCC partner with local school districts through Rockland’s BOCES to create a magnet school for students in grades 9-12. “That isn’t going to happen overnight, but it needs to happen,” said Wood. “I’d like to see 30-50 full-time high school students learning here and graduating with both a diploma and a two-year associate’s degree.”
Is New York’s educational system going “back to the future?” While the state once boasted a wealth of technical high schools where students came out workforce ready, “it’s a different story today,” said Wood. “We need to get more students involved and ready for the workforce, not just when they come to college but start preparing them when they come into high school…they are our future workforce, and we need to fill the jobs here and grow them. We can’t do it without initiatives like this one.”