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Advanced Manufacturing Institute Becomes Reality

By Steve Yablonski

It enables students to be job-ready 

It’s “a vision” come true. Cayuga Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Institute officially opened on May 5.

The new facility is geared toward supporting the current and future workforce as well as regional employers.

“The opening of the Advanced Manufacturing Institute is a vision Novelis has shared with Cayuga Community College and our industry partners for many years,” said Kristen Nelson, plant manager, Novelis.

“Huhtamaki is excited to celebrate the opening of the Advanced Manufacturing Institute with Cayuga Community College, as well as with our industry and workforce development partners,” said Mark Southwick, Huhtamaki plant manager.

Situated on the college’s Fulton campus, the AMI is designed to support students seeking a degree or certificate, as well as members of the workforce who are looking for short-term training to advance their career or learn a new skill. Located adjacent to the college’s primary building, the AMI is a 7,800-square-foot facility that features industrial power and networking to support training units in pneumatics, hydraulics, motors, piping and industry-grade programmable logic controls stations, and a classroom for instruction.

Credit and non-credit classes started in the AMI earlier this spring.

The institute will play a pivotal role in preparing the current and future workforce to continue the proud manufacturing tradition in Oswego County and Central New York, according to Brian Durant, Cayuga president.

The project was in the works for several years. Construction started in earnest in 2020-2021 and was finished earlier this year.

“Several partners supported the project with funding and design input, particularly Novelis, Huhtamaki, Operation Oswego County, the County IDA, and the Cayuga County Community College Foundation,” Durant said. “SUNY and the Oswego County Manufacturers’ Consortium were also supporters of the project.”

“Our Advanced Manufacturing Institute is a unique facility that will support students and the workforce but also employers looking for skilled employees who are ready to contribute on their first day,” said Keiko Kimura, Cayuga’s vice president of workforce development and partnerships. “We’re confident students and those seeking short-term training will find the AMI an invaluable resource as they take the next step in their education or career.”

Because construction was ongoing this semester, they only had one credit class in the facility and some noncredit programs. This will increase in the fall semester, Durant said.

“In terms of students, this is going to be a different approach than the traditional manner of determining enrollment. Yes, we’ll have programs designed for students to earn a degree or a certificate. But we’ll also be offering apprenticeship programs, workshops and non-credit courses to support current employees who need to learn a new skill,” Durant explained. “So some students will earn a degree and take courses over multiple semesters, while others may take one or two courses, whether credit or noncredit, to upskill and continue their career.”

“Our community came together to create a world-class facility that will provide strong technical training that integrates manufacturing core competencies and hands-on experience to educate students to meet the needs of the advanced manufacturing industry,”Southwick agreed. “The Huhtamaki team looks forward to continuing to support and partner with the institute, their students and the Oswego County community as we collectively continue our efforts to strengthen our region.”

“Giving area students the tools they need to be workforce-ready empowers the students to lean into interesting careers and creates a pipeline that is essential to area manufacturers,” Nelson, Novelis’ plant manager, added. “Our team looks forward to the opportunity to work closely with the institute to develop the next generation of skilled workers for years to come.”

Ultimately, the goal with any program or non-credit course that utilizes the AMI is for the participating students to learn the skills they need to succeed in their chosen industry, and to help the employers identify talented employees that will help their businesses succeed, Durant said.

Faculty ready

“We have several faculty dedicated to instructing courses and programs that will use the AMI. Currently, the college has an industrial maintenance facilities certificate and an electromechanical system fundamentals microcredential students can earn through programs at the AMI, along with other classes related to hydraulics, pneumatics, electrical motor controls and other soft skills such as effective workplace communication and working in teams,” Durant said. “We’re working with local industries to research establishing new workforce training credentials to address ongoing technical skills and trades.”

 It is “absolutely possible” to expand and update in the future, he said.

“In the facilities surrounding the AMI, there are thousands of available square feet for potential expansion. In the future that could mean more hands-on training stations, additional equipment or extra classrooms,” he said. “The facility was designed to be a flexible training space that can accommodate different types of skills needed in advanced manufacturing.”

A two-fold goal

“This was and will be a project with a two-fold goal — one, to prepare the current and future workforce for successful careers in manufacturing. Two, to partner with employers by teaching the skills they identify as critical to becoming a qualified employee. That way, both the employee and employer benefit,” Durant explained. “We will work with employers to have a strong sense of what skills, training and knowledge they need their employees to have. So, as new industries come in or as current industries grow and have a demand for employees with new or different skills, we’ll adapt our curriculum as quickly as possible to support them. That might mean a whole new degree program or a series of noncredit classes. It will depend on the situation and what our students and employers need.”

“The goal for students who earn degrees or certificates through the programs at the AMI, or those members of the workforce who take a noncredit course, is to find successful employment in their chosen industry. Of course, we hope our students stay local and we’re working with our industrial partners to make sure the students learn the skills they need to find employment in Central New York,” he continued. “This is a practical, common-sense approach: Provide the students the training they need to begin a manufacturing career or continue their manufacturing career, and thereby build a talented pool of current or potential employees for our regional manufacturing partners.”

Programs available through the AMI will feature flexible, diverse curriculums designed to offer students excellent instruction and training to start their careers. A broad range of stackable certifications and credentials combining workshops, credit and noncredit opportunities and apprenticeships will be available.

The AMI is the latest capital project supporting students and the surrounding community completed at Cayuga. In 2019, the college opened its new childcare center and in 2021, it opened its culinary institute. Both are located in Auburn.

The college has also started construction on a Workforce Development Center in the city of Auburn, which, when completed, will situate career and community support agencies in the former Cornell Cooperative Extension Center on Grant Avenue.