UTICA – The Advanced Institute of Manufacturing (AIM) at Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC) provides a range of services to manufacturing businesses in the six-county Mohawk Valley as a New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) hub.
“We are one of 11 MEP centers located in New York State,” says AIM Director Corey Albrecht. The Institute serves as a centralized access point for manufacturing and technology assistance to Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida and Schoharie counties. “Our mission is to support small and medium-sized businesses in the Mohawk Valley, helping them grow their businesses and become more profitable,” he noted.
Some of the programming topics AIM looks at to help these businesses include lean manufacturing, effective Six Sigma, cybersecurity, risk assessment and training, and quality management systems.
“We have a very comprehensive program for middle managers and supervisors,” says Albrecht.
AIM also offers a wide range of technical training in areas such as welding, CNC machining, mechanical, electrical and HVAC, along with MVCC. As the only MEP located in a community college, AIM has access to for-credit programming on the college side and can bring that training to the manufacturer’s doorstep, Albrecht said. In doing so, AIM has helped companies like Oriskany Manufacturing and Bartell Machinery Systems in need of skilled welders.
Businesses are struggling because that trained workforce no longer exists, Albrecht said. “These companies are forced to really change the way they think and change the way they approach workforce development.” Working with AIM is one way companies can get workers the training they need to fill those roles, he says.
Although AIM offers a constant mix of programming, Albrecht says the institute works hard to provide companies with what they need. “Every business we go into is asking us for workers,” he says, so workforce development remains a programming priority.
Because of this, AIM works closely with area school districts to promote manufacturing jobs. Locally, this may include jobs at Wolfspeed, Danfoss and Indium Corporation.
AIM organized trips for local high school counselors, principals, and even superintendents to visit those companies and learn about the types of jobs available.
“We need to educate them and make them aware 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 provided the school with virtual reality (VR) headsets and free licenses for career exploration programming. According to Albrecht, AIM Fiber Instrument Sales Inc. and FX was able to create videos about what it’s like to work for local breweries like Matt Brewing Co. Students can explore welder, machinist, quality engineer and other jobs through VR headsets.
It’s all about providing information, as well as removing barriers that prevent people from seeking manufacturing jobs, says Albrecht. For many people, the perception of industrial work can deviate significantly from reality, he noted. Rather than a low-wage job in a dirty factory, the reality in many manufacturing positions today is much different. “You wouldn’t believe what some of these advanced manufacturing facilities are paying,” he says.
New York State currently has more than 9,500 manufacturing jobs posted on Indeed.com, Albrecht said, and the state’s average annual manufacturing compensation is $80,394.
While AIM can help almost any manufacturing business, it specializes in microelectronics and semiconductors, food and beverage, metal and wood, and distribution.