Paving the Way for the New Wave of Manufacturers: Hudson Valley Pathways Academy
The Hudson Valley Pathways Academy (HVPA) program allows high school students to earn their high school diploma and an associate’s degree as part of a P-TECH six-year technical program. Students enter the program as high school freshmen and those who successfully complete it will graduate with an A.A.S. in one of three concentrations from SUNY Ulster, one of which is advanced manufacturing. This program is of no cost to students.
Local manufacturing companies in the Hudson Valley partner with HVPA to connect with students and provide resources and opportunities. HVPA’s project-based model offers a hands-on approach where students have the opportunity to explore industry problems. In one component of the program called “industry challenges,” students work on cases and present results to companies whose representatives provide feedback.
Richard Croce, President and CEO of Viking Industries, partners with HVPA to provide insight to students on industry challenges. Croce primarily works with first year students. He, a sales rep, and a designer will evaluate student presentations–which are based on real customer challenges–to offer industry feedback. “It’s really remarkable what these students are coming up with at such a young age,” says Croce. “The problem solving approach that is instilled in these students through the workplace learning challenges and the regular curriculum has them so much more prepared to tackle roles than other applicants.”
Stephen Casa, Workplace Learning Coordinator at Ulster BOCES, highlights the efficacy of these projects in challenging students to contemplate real-world industry issues. “It’s very nontraditional and an incredibly successful model,” he says. “[Businesses] get to see how capable these high school kids are and how dedicated and enthusiastic they are.”
HVPA students also have the opportunity to intern with local manufacturers, Casa explains. “This is an untapped market for business partners. If businesses can integrate themselves with the high schoolers, there’s a market of potential trainable talent,” he says. Croce says Viking specifically looks to take on HVPA students as interns. Currently, his company has two interns from the program.
Frank Falatyn, President of FALA Technologies, has hired four HVPA students since the program’s inception, and one intern has accepted a full-time role with FALA. Falatyn acknowledges the role of HVPA in preparing students to enter the workforce. “This is the first time we’re actually seeing students come to us who are ready to go into manufacturing,” he says.
Looking ahead, HVPA anticipates future students gaining more internship opportunities. Integrating with the community and taking on more local manufacturing business partners will play a crucial role in further developing the program and granting students the opportunity for hands-on experience in the industry. “We will continue to support the internship program at Pathways. They have done a tremendous job listening to the needs of the industry and developing that in their curriculum,” says Croce.
To learn more about Hudson Valley Pathways Academy, click here.
Article written by Taylor Dowd