UTICA – The Advanced Institute for Manufacturing (AIM) at Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC) offers a range of services to manufacturing businesses in the six-county Mohawk Valley region as a New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) center.
“We are one of 11 MEP centers in New York State,” says AIM Director Cory Albrecht. The institute serves Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida and Schoharie counties as a centralized access point for manufacturing and technology assistance. “Our mission is to support small and medium-sized manufacturing in the Mohawk Valley region, helping them grow their businesses and become more profitable,” he notes.
Some of the programming topics AIM covers to help these businesses include lean manufacturing, lean six sigma, cyber security, risk assessment and training, and quality management systems to name a few.
“We have a pretty comprehensive program for middle managers and supervisors,” says Albrecht.
AIM also offers many technical training courses in areas such as welding, CNC machining, mechanical, electrical and HVAC in conjunction with MVCC. As the only MEP based at a community college, AIM has access to for-credit programming on the university side, bringing that training right to the manufacturer’s door, notes Albrecht. In this way, AIM helped companies like Oriskany Manufacturing and Bartell Machinery Systems, both of which needed skilled welders.
Businesses are struggling because that trained workforce doesn’t really exist anymore, Albrecht says. “These companies are being forced to really change their mindset and change their approach to workforce development.” Working with AIM is one way companies can get workers the training they need to fill those roles, he says.
While AIM constantly offers a mix of programming, Albrecht says the institute works hard to give companies what they need. “Every business we go to, they’re asking us for workers,” he says, so workforce development remains a dominant area of programming.
In this regard, AIM works closely with school districts in the region to support manufacturing jobs. Locally, this may include jobs at Wolfspeed, Danfoss and Indium Corporation.
AIM organized field trips for local high school counselors, principals and even superintendents to visit these companies and learn firsthand what types of jobs are available.
“We need to give them the knowledge and create awareness of what the Mohawk Valley region needs,” says Albrecht.
AIM also recently visited the Rome Free Academy with FuzeHub and the Expertise Project to introduce the workforce to over 100 technology students. AIM also gifted the school with virtual reality (VR) headsets and free programming licenses for career exploration. Albrecht says AIM was able to make videos about what it’s like to work at local manufacturing companies like Fiber Instrument Sales Inc. and FX Matt Brewing Co. Students can explore welders, machinists, quality engineers and other jobs with VR headsets.
It’s all about providing information and also breaking down barriers that can prevent people from finding manufacturing jobs, says Albrecht. For many, the perception of manufacturing work is likely to be greatly skewed from reality, he notes. Rather than a low-paying job in a dirty factory, the reality of many manufacturing jobs today is much different. “You wouldn’t believe what some of these advanced manufacturing contracts pay,” he says.
New York state currently has more than 9,500 manufacturing jobs posted on Indeed.com, Albrecht says, and the average annual manufacturing compensation in the state is $80,394.
While able to assist almost any manufacturing business, AIM specializes in microelectronics and semiconductors, food and beverage, metal and wood, and distribution.