Author: Jessica Thorpe
Summer students at Burgard High School (400 Kensington Avenue) have helped to renovate welding stations envisioned to serve as portals to well- paying advanced manufacturing careers for East Side Buffalo youth.
As part of a $3.2 million Buffalo Billion initiative announced in June and led by Alfred State College, the students gained hands-on experience working alongside construction workers upgrading the existing Burgard High Machine Tool Lab, Welding Lab and Auto Lab.
The three labs are central to the school’s Advanced Manufacturing Program (AMP), which is training students to fill high-demand jobs in the new Buffalo economy.
The Buffalo Niagara area predicts the availability of more than 17,000 jobs in welding, auto tech and advanced machine tool technology by 2020 due to retirement and industry growth. Launched in 2014, the Burgard AMP offers students the opportunity to prepare for these jobs by taking college level courses while still in high school, and obtaining an associate degree at Alfred State College after an additional year of study at the SUNY school after graduation.
“The Advanced Manufacturing program where Burgard students take Alfred State College classes in high school is truly changing lives and responding to industry needs,” Craig R. Clark, Vice President of Economic Development at Alfred State College said.
The first class of about 15-19 Burgard AMP students will graduate in the spring of 2018 with the chance to go on to Alfred State College that fall. About 60 of the freshmen entering Burgard next month are expected to enter its Advanced Manufacturing Program in the fall of 2018 when they become sophomores.
The total project cost for upgrading and installing state-of-the-art equipment in the Burgard High School machine tool, auto and welding labs is $800,000 of the $3.2 million Buffalo Billion funding.
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul advised in June that the new initiative continues to move forward the regional strategy to develop the skilled workforce needed to attract and retain advanced manufacturing investment in Western New York.
Mayor Byron W. Brown thanked Alfred State College for leading the initiative and Governor Andrew Cuomo for the Buffalo Billion investment and continued commitment to the students of the City of Buffalo.
And Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky noted: “…With funding from Governor Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative, Burgard High School is well underway to becoming an exciting career hub for advanced manufacturing.
Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes lauded all involved for “a wonderful project.”
“It gives students hands-on work experience during the construction phase, provides state-of-the-art equipment for students to learn on, creates the beginning stages for an education to employment pipeline in advanced manufacturing, and creates a growing synergy on the East Side of Buffalo with the up and coming Northland Corridor,” Peoples-Stokes said. “Education and development go hand in hand and I can’t wait until both projects begin bearing fruit of young adults in career paths earning living wages.”
Photo: Empire State Development