A graduation ceremony for the first class of Buffalo State’s Advanced Manufacturing Certificate Program will be held on Thursday, June 30, at 6:45 p.m. in the Campbell Student Union Social Hall.
In 2015, Buffalo State received grants of $230,000 and $92,000 from JP Morgan Chase and the New York Department of Labor, respectively, to fund the 12-month certificate program geared toward women, minorities, and veterans who also are dislocated workers.
The Continuing Professional Studies Office collaborated with the Engineering Technology and the Career and Technical Education departments to offer the free program to qualified participants. The program is continuing with a new class this August.
“The purpose is to help dislocated workers get the skills they need to return to the workforce in positions that local employers need to fill,” said Margaret Shaw-Burnett, associate vice president for continuing professional studies. Class curricula included technical drawing, quality management, computer-aided drafting (CAD), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), shop math, basic computer skills, and soft-skills training.
Forty-eight individuals initially enrolled and 32 are graduating on Thursday. One of those students is Johnny Patrick, a 55-year-old Army veteran who was laid off from his machine operations job when his employer moved its operations to Florida.
“To get the next job, I knew I needed to sharpen my skills. I came to the right place at the right time (with this program),” Patrick said. “I’ve learned some engineering, CAD, and CAM. I feel confident I can get a job. I also want to continue taking technology classes at Buffalo State and go for my bachelor’s degree.”
Wende Hilliard, a 55-year-old who previously worked in light industrial jobs such as a food packaging, described the certificate program as challenging.
“We did things I never have done before. But it’s another step up in manufacturing, and it’s interesting,” said Hilliard, as she showed off a tool she created using a vertical mill set up in the Buckham Hall shop room. “If you’re not challenged, you get bored.”
The program partnered with local employers who gave students the opportunity to work at their manufacturing sites and shadow employees. Several students already have landed jobs at local companies including Servotronics and Ford Motor Co.
Christopher Trzaska, who is graduating Thursday, was just offered a job as a machine operator with North American Carbide. A 1994 graduate of Erie County Community College, Trzaska previously worked as a production operator for a company that closed in April 2015. Last summer, he discovered the advanced manufacturing certificate program.
“I liked that you could complete it in one year,” he said. “Two years is too long and six months isn’t long enough to get the adequate training you need.”
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