UTICA – The Advanced Institute for Manufacturing (AIM) at Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC) provides a host of services to manufacturing companies in the six-county Mohawk Valley area as the New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) center.
“We are one of 11 MEP centers located in New York State,” says Cory Albrecht, director of AIM. The institute serves Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida and Schoharie counties as a centralized access point for manufacturing and technology support. “Our mission is to support small and medium-sized manufacturing businesses in the Mohawk Valley region, helping them grow their business and become more profitable,” he notes.
Some of the programming topics covered by AIM to help these companies include lean manufacturing, lean six sigma, cybersecurity, risk assessment and training, and quality management systems, to name a few. .
“We have a fairly comprehensive program for mid-level managers and supervisors,” says Albrecht.
AIM also offers numerous technical training courses in fields such as welding, CNC machining, mechanics, electricity and HVAC in collaboration with MVCC. As the only MEP located at a community college, AIM is able to access college-side credit programs and bring that training directly to a manufacturer’s door, Albrecht notes. In this way, AIM has helped companies like Oriskany Manufacturing and Bartell Machinery Systems, both of which needed qualified welders.
Companies are struggling because that skilled workforce doesn’t really exist anymore, says Albrecht. “These companies are being forced to really change their thinking and change their approach to workforce development.” Working with AIM is a way for companies to provide workers with the training they need to fulfill these roles, he says.
While AIM continually offers a mix of programs, Albrecht says the institute works hard to provide businesses with what they need. “Every company we go to, they ask us for workers,” he says, so workforce development remains a dominant programming area.
In this regard, AIM works closely with area school districts to promote manufacturing jobs. Locally, this may include jobs at Wolfspeed, Danfoss and Indium Corporation.
AIM has arranged trips for local high school counselors, principals, and even superintendents to visit these businesses and experience first-hand the types of jobs available.
“We need to give them the knowledge and make them aware of the needs of the Mohawk Valley region,” says Albrecht.
AIM also recently visited the Rome Free Academy with FuzeHub and the Expertise Project to deliver a presentation on the workforce to over 100 tech students. AIM also provided the school with virtual reality (VR) headsets and free licenses for career exploration programming. Albrecht says AIM has been 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 welder, machinist, quality engineer and others with VR headsets.
It’s about providing information and also removing barriers that can prevent people from getting manufacturing jobs, says Albrecht. For many, the perception of a job in manufacturing is likely significantly skewed from reality, he notes. Rather than a low-paying job in a dirty factory, the reality is much different in many manufacturing jobs today. “You wouldn’t believe what some of these advanced manufacturing jobs pay,” he says.
New York State currently has more than 9,500 manufacturing jobs posted on Indeed.com, Albrecht says, and the average annual industry compensation in the state is $80,394.
Although AIM can help almost any manufacturing company, it specializes in microelectronics and semiconductors, food and beverage, metal and wood, and distribution.