Reprinted with permission from Laura Magee, public affairs specialist at Empire State Development
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced the grand opening of a new state-of-the-art Welding Lab, and renovations of the existing Machine Tool Lab and Auto Lab at Burgard High School in Buffalo. The $3.2 million Buffalo Billion initiative lead by Alfred State College provides the high-tech tools students need to train for careers in welding, automotive and other cutting-edge careers.
"Education is the first step of workforce development, and New York will continue to equip our young people with the necessary tools and training for future success," Cuomo said. "This project will create a hands-on learning experience that will prepare students for college and the advanced manufacturing employment pipeline, and will continue the economic progress we've made in western New York."
"During my tour of Burgard High School last year at the beginning of construction, I met students who now have career options available to them based on the real skills they were learning in school," said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul. "Investments in the high-tech industry are preparing students for good paying jobs of the future, helping to meet workforce demand and close the skills gap. This project is another effort as part of the Buffalo Billion moving western New York's economy forward."
The rehabilitation of the existing building has been completed along with extensive upgrades and new equipment in the Auto, Welding, and Machine Tool labs at Burgard High School. The Machine Tool Lab has been outfitted with state-of-the-art lathes, drills, pressers and grinders. The Auto Lab now has new drops and lifts for the automobiles. Burgard has also added equipment in a new second welding lab. The total project cost of the Machine Tool Lab, Welding Lab and Auto Lab equipment addition is $800,000 of the $3.2 million in Buffalo Billion funding.
The students of Burgard High School took an active role in the renovations, working alongside the construction workers to create the welding stations.
"During the last few years Buffalo has seen a turnaround in the number of young people who are choosing to stay and build their careers in WNY," said Howard Zemsky, Empire State Development president, CEO, and commissioner. "At Burgard High School's advanced manufacturing lab, students will learn new skills that will eventually help them fill in-demand jobs and contribute to building a workforce for the region's advanced manufacturing industry."
Sen. Tim Kennedy said, "As Buffalo continues to make investments in advanced manufacturing, the city's schools need simultaneous support, so that they can arm their students with the type of training and skills they need to pursue fulfilling careers. Today's grand opening is once again proof that New York is delivering for our future generations, and that Governor Cuomo is committed to Buffalo's long-term economic growth."
Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes said, "Burgard's expansion is a wonderful announcement. The fact that students gained experience by playing a role in the construction process is even better. This is a great example of strengthening the foundation for our future workforce and economy by giving everyone the necessary tools and skill sets to be successful."
Mayor Byron W. Brown said, "Today's announcement is another step in the right direction to prepare our youth for jobs of the future. I'm very pleased that students at Burgard High School will now benefit from a new state-of-the-art Welding Lab, and renovations to the Machine Tool Lab and Auto Lab. I thank Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul for investing in our young people with $3.2 million, part of the Buffalo Billion initiative. Buffalo's students will now have access to high-tech tools, which will prepare them for high paying careers."
Craig R. Clark, vice president of Economic Development at Alfred State College said, "Working with the great students and faculty at Burgard to change lives through preparing students in the skilled trades is making a difference and something we see as our mission"
Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash said, "The true beauty of this project is that it fully engaged students from beginning to end; they were involved in the set-up of the new lab, and used their welding skills to fabricate the booths. Better still, due to the success of the Advanced Manufacturing Program with Alfred State, this second welding lab was added to increase capacity while simulating actual fabrication labs used in the industry. I want to thank Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Sen. Tim Kennedy, Alfred State, and the Buffalo Billion for their support of this initiative. All of the labs here: Welding, CAD/CAM, Auto, and Machine Tool, have been updated for maximum learning with state-of the art tools and software so that our students will be ready to step up and meet industry needs. Our students will be part of the economic engine that helps rebuild America."
Stephen Tucker, president and CEO of Northland Workforce Training Center said, "Burgard's new state of the art advanced manufacturing labs provide students with the opportunity to gain 21st century technical skills which are critical for their individual success and the overall quality of the labor pool in Western New York. These students will be prepared to enter directly into the workforce or continue their education at the Northland Workforce Training Center.
It is predicted that more than 20,000 advanced manufacturing jobs in welding, auto tech, and advanced machine tool technology will be available in the Buffalo-Niagara area by 2020 due to retirement and industry growth. Burgard High School students have the opportunity to prepare for these high-tech jobs by enrolling in the Advanced Manufacturing Program, in partnership with Alfred State College, Say Yes Buffalo and Dream It Do It Western NY.
This includes an opportunity for students to take college-level courses in high school and obtain an associate degree from Alfred State College after one additional year of college following their high school graduation. This spring, the first round of students from this program that began in 2014 will graduate and have the opportunity to move forward with their education at Alfred State. The Advanced Manufacturing Program at Burgard continues to grow, with 30 juniors continuing on for their second year in the program and 45 sophomores beginning their first year. About 45 of the freshmen who began in the fall of 2017 will be selected into the Advanced Manufacturing Program their sophomore year in the fall of 2018.