Empire State Development on Thursday announced a $3.2 million Buffalo Billion initiative lead by Alfred State College is moving forward with the construction of a new, state-of-the-art welding lab, and renovations of the existing machine tool lab and auto lab for the use of the advanced manufacturing students. Burgard High School's advanced manufacturing program continues to be a pipeline for students interested in welding, automotive and other cutting-edge manufacturing careers.
"The Buffalo Billion has been driving Western New York's economic recovery with strategic investments in emerging sectors, especially advanced manufacturing. It is also building the skilled workforce needed to attract and retain those businesses in this region," said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who toured Burgard's summer program Thursday. "By supporting these renovations at Burgard High School, we are preparing our students for the well-paying jobs that are waiting for them in the new Buffalo economy."
The rehab of the existing building (electric, HVAC, etc.) has been completed to prepare for the upgrades and new equipment in the auto, welding and machine tool labs. The machine tool lab has just been upgraded with state-of-the-art equipment. The auto lab is currently being renovated with new drops and lifts for the automobiles. Burgard is also finishing adding 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 entire project is expected to be finished by Aug. 18.
The summer school students are taking an active role in the renovations. They are currently working alongside the construction workers to create the welding stations.
"With funding from Gov. Cuomo's Buffalo Billion initiative, Burgard High School is well underway to becoming an exciting career hub for advanced manufacturing," said Howard Zemsky, ESD president, CEO and commissioner. "This initiative trains students to fill in-demand jobs, particularly skilled production occupations, and incentivizes Western New York workers to remain in the region."
"The advanced manufacturing program where Burgard students take Alfred State College classes in the high school is truly changing lives and responding to industry needs," said Craig R. Clark, vice president of economic development at Alfred State College.
"The Advanced Manufacturing Program at Burgard is a prime example of the district's 'New Education Bargain.' Through the innovative high school redesign, we've provided expanded career and technical education opportunities for our students in high-demand, high-wage careers that align to emerging industries in Western New York. Our students will leave Burgard's AMP program college and career ready," said James G. Weimer, associate superintendent of school leadership.
It is predicted more than 17,000 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 the high school and obtain an associate degree from Alfred State College after one additional year of college following their high school graduation.
In spring 2018, the first round of about 15-19 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 37 juniors continuing on for their second year in the program, and 45 sophomores beginning their first year. It is anticipated that about 60 of the freshmen beginning this fall will be selected into the advanced manufacturing program their sophomore year in the fall of 2018.
ESD is New York's chief economic development agency. Its mission is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the state and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. For more information on ESD and Regional Councils, visit www.esd.ny.gov