FIRST Robotics Will Hold a Regional Competition at Rockland Community College


Imagine a competition where of teams excited, technology-driven high school students compete head to head with robots they have designed, built and programmed themselves. Imagine hundreds of such teams competing in the Hudson Valley over a single weekend for the chance to advance to compete in front of 70,000 people in April at the FIRST Championship in Houston and again in May in Detroit. You don’t have to imagine it – it is real and will happen March 19 -20, 2020 at the Rockland Community College Athletic Center and you can be a part of it. Click here for event information.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded by inventor Dean Kamen in 1989 and is the world’s leading youth serving nonprofit advancing science, technology, engineering, and math. This program inspires students in grades K -12 worldwide while teaching leadership by engaging them in hands-on robotics challenges. FIRST LEGO League Jr. is for grade K-4, FIRST LEGO League is Grades 4- 8, and FIRST Tech Challenge covers grades 7 -12, while the FIRST Robotics Competition is grade 9 -12.

The program is supported by corporations, educational and professional institutions and individuals who provide mentorship time and talent, equipment, and funding. Participation in FIRST is proven to encourage students to pursue education and careers in STEM-related fields. They develop self-confidence in STEM and real-world skills that can lead to careers in STEM related fields and more. High school participants are also eligible to apply for more than $80 million in scholarships to participating colleges and universities.

Working with professional Mentors participants design and build a robot, and compete in high-intensity events that reward the effectiveness of each robot, the power of team strategy and collaboration, and the determination of students. The competition teams create powerful mentoring relationships between the students and professional mentors, many of which are engineers and other professionals. The event starts with a Kickoff event that unveils a new, exciting, and challenging game. From the Kickoff, teams have limited time to build and program a robot to compete in the game using a kit of parts provided by FIRST and a standard set of rules. This year’s theme focuses on renewable sources of energy and is titled INFINITE RECHARGE.

Perhaps the program has achieved such amazing results because FIRST is known for Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition. If you haven’t heard these terms before – “Gracious Professionalism is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. With Gracious Professionalism, fierce competition and mutual gain are not separate notions. Gracious professionals learn and compete like crazy, but treat one another with respect and kindness in the process.” And at FIRST, Coopertition is “displaying unqualified kindness and respect in the face of fierce competition.” Coopertition is founded on the concept and a philosophy that teams can and should help and cooperate with each other even as they compete. Coopertition involves learning from teammates. It is teaching teammates. It is learning from Mentors. And it is managing and being managed. Coopertition means competing always, but assisting and enabling others when you can.

Last year nearly 100,000 high school students on 3,940 FIRST Robotics Competition teams took part in 100 district events, 11 District Championships, and 62 Regional Events (in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Israel, Mexico, and Turkey), and the FIRST Championship. Teams are comprised of professional mentors and 10 or more student members in grades 9-12. In addition, each FIRST team has one or more sponsors. Those sponsors include companies, universities, or professional organizations that donate their time, talent, funds, equipment, and much more to the team effort.

FIRST is a volunteer driven organization with more than 255,000 volunteer roles filled in the 2017-18 season. There are several FIRST programs in the Hudson Valley and opportunities for anyone reading this to become a volunteer. Many of the technical roles may require some experience and training but there are opportunities for safety advisors, field set-up, field re-set and similar tasks that can be a good fit for a first-time technical volunteer. Interested volunteers can visit the FIRST Inspires website HERE for more information about how to become a mentor, coach, or event volunteer.

Your company can also support the Regional Competition by participating in the College and Career Fair planned for the first day of the competition, March 19, 2020.  Your participation will highlight the many career options open to these highly motivated students in manufacturing.

For more information visit the FIRST Inspire website HERE.

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Episode 2: Pine Bush High School, Integrating Education and Career Readiness at the Highest Level


The Council of Industry recently launched a podcast! In this episode Harold King from the Council of Industry interviews Aaron Hopmayer, Principal of Pine Bush High School.

Episode 2:Pine Bush High School, Integrating Education and Career Readiness at the Highest Level

Aaron Hopmayer, affectionately known as “HOP” talked about Pine Bush High School’s success in integrating STEAM into all disciplines and the booming enrollment in their summer enrichment academies (including their newest summer academy for Advanced Manufacturing).

You can learn more about Pine Bush’s Summer Enrichment Academies here:
STEM Academy
Advanced Manufacturing Academy

Hop shares his experience overcoming obstacles, building engagement and generally doing whatever it takes because “its good for kids”. Pine Bush High School will also be hosting an Advanced Manufacturing and STEAM Careers Night on October 2nd from 5pm – 8:30pm designed for students with interests ranging from entry level positions to Engineers. All are welcome for an opportunity to meet with local manufacturers, colleges and trade schools. There will also be a chance to tour Pine Bush High School’s Innovation Center and Fabrication Labs.

For more information on Pine Bush High School’s 2019 Manufacturing Day contact Aaron Hopmayer at: (845) 744-2031 ext. 3601

Aaron Hopmayer was also featured as the Leadership Profile in the Spring 2018 issue of HV Mfg Magazine

For more Council of Industry podcasts follow our SoundCloud station here.

You can also listen to Episode 1: MPI, At the intersection of manufacturing, innovation and family business here. In this episode Harold King and Johnnieanne Hansen from the Council of Industry interview Bruce and Aaron Phipps of Poughkeepsie based manufacturing company, MPI. Bruce and Aaron Phipps talk about what its like to grow up in a family owned business and now work together as contemporaries tackling the challenges and celebrating the successes with their MPI family.

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Check Out the New CI Podcast and Meet Manufacturers, Educators and Influencers from around the Hudson Valley


In an effort to expand our reach and spread the word about manufacturing in the region, The Council of Industry is launching a podcast. We’ve been working behind the scenes to bring our members and the community an inside look into the people of Hudson Valley manufacturing.

The podcast space has grown expansively in the US with over 40% increase in awareness since 2017. According to Edison Research, 62 million Americans have listened to podcasts in the past week.

Our mission is to support our members and promote their success.  One important way we do that is to help people get to know all about manufacturing in the Hudson Valley; the companies, the products, the technologies, and the people – as well as its economic importance to the region.  As technology evolves, opportunities to communicate that message change. In the 1930s, we introduced the CI newsletter, followed by in 1991, and the introduction of HV MFG, The Council of Industry’s Magazine, in 2013. Over the last few years, we added a K-12 outreach resource, expanded our YouTube Channel and formed a 501(c)3, (Hudson Valley Manufacturing Workforce Center); simultaneously weaving our message with the purpose of increasing awareness and promoting the success of our members.

The staff at CI already get to talk to fascinating, impactful people daily – now we can share those stories. Adding the podcast medium will help us broaden our reach and help us share insights, best practices and hopefully some laughs, with a wider audience.  Perhaps the podcast will help bring the already supportive manufacturing community even closer together.

Here’s a Taste of What’s to Come:

Episode 1Bruce and Aaron Phipps, MPI
Aaron and Bruce share details about what it is like to grow up in a family-owned business and now work together as contemporaries tackling the challenges and celebrating the successes with their MPI family. Aaron is heavily involved at SUNY New Paltz on their advisory board and mentoring interns. They speak about the importance of engagement at that level, training and building the next generation of workforce. Aaron and Bruce are fun to talk to and we’re thankful they agreed to be our tester podcast.

Listen to Episode 1: MPI, At the intersection of manufacturing, innovation and family business 

Episode 2: Aaron Hopmayer, Principal, Pine Bush High School
Aaron Hopmayer, affectionately known as “HOP” is top-notch. We talked with Aaron and Kenny Marshall about their success in integrating STEAM into all disciplines, the booming enrollment in their summer enrichment academies (including their newest summer academy for Advanced Manufacturing). Hop shares his experience overcoming obstacles, building engagement and generally doing whatever it takes because “its good for kids”.  Big shout out to Kenny Marshall, STEAM Coach for helping us work through the podcast flow and his patience for working with Harold and me, amateurs that we are. Kenny is a transformational teacher and coach; he was also one of our 2018 Manufacturing Champions. I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of Kenny in our podcast world.

Episode 3: Julian Stauffer, PTI
We truly enjoyed talking with Julian. He talked about his family history and the changes in leadership over the last several decades. He shared some insight about the importance of an adaptable, diverse workplace and what’s ahead for this growing company in Westchester. Julian and his brother Oliver are gracious hosts and the epitome of leadership in advanced manufacturing. We barely scratched the surface in this podcast, I look forward to chatting with Julian, and Oliver again in the near future.

Episode 4: Joe & Jimmy Ferrara and Stephanie Melick, ELNA Magnetics
Not only were we able to chat with Joe, Jimmy and Steph in episode 4, they are also going to be featured in our upcoming edition of HV Mfg. Magazine. We laughed a little too much while preparing for this podcast and then worked out our jitters together. We talked about the culture at Elna, their efforts to tackle workforce development challenges and the future of the business. This was a fun conversation – hopefully, some of the content actually makes it to the ‘podcast’.

Still to come:

Jenny Clark, Global Foundries
Gretchen Zierick, Zierick’s 100-year anniversary
Meaghan Taylor, Regional Director, Empire State Development

This podcast launches in conjunction with other CI activities including our latest video featuring an Electro-Mechanical Technician Apprentice, Forrest (sponsored by Tompkins Mahopac Bank) and the upcoming edition of the HV Mfg Magazine due out in October.

We are always looking for great content; if you are interested in joining us for a podcast episode or know someone who is particularly interesting, please reach out to

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Tompkins Mahopac Bank Creates Scholarship to Support Students Passionate About Manufacturing

From left to right: Diana L. Pollard (executive director of the Dutchess Community College Foundation), Olti Begaj (scholarship recipient) and Amy Greiner (vice president, commercial lending at Tompkins Mahopac Bank)

Deeply rooted in manufacturing and innovation, the Hudson Valley has seen significant advancement in this industry over the years, including local companies developing crucial smart phone technology and other cutting-edge digital assets. With so much growth and development, Tompkins Mahopac Bank realizes the importance of training, attracting and retaining top talent to fill the growing need for manufacturing jobs and to incentivize people to build lives in the Hudson Valley. To paraphrase the famous Field of Dreams quote, “If you build it, they will come.” If the talent is here, the businesses who depend on this talent are more likely to stay and grow. The more businesses that stay, the stronger the county is as a whole.

To help address the critical need for workforce development in the communities it serves, Tompkins created the Make and Accelerate Scholarship to support Hudson Valley students who demonstrate exceptional talent, drive and a love for manufacturing. The scholarship, in its second year, is now awarded by the Dutchess Community College and Westchester Community College foundations to outstanding students in their technical programs and covers $1,000 of tuition fees. This year’s Dutchess Community College (DCC) recipient, Olti Begaj, is an aspiring electrical technician who is on track to graduate with his associate’s degree in May 2020.

“The [Make and Accelerate] Scholarship has paid for my tuition expense, allowing me to focus on my academic pursuits,” said Begaj. “Without [Tompkins Mahopac Bank’s] donation, I wouldn’t be able to achieve the grades necessary to fulfill my professional ambition of becoming an electrical technician.”

At the beginning of this initiative, Tompkins partnered with the Council of Industry on a workforce development initiative called “Go Make It,” a program that encourages people to pursue manufacturing careers in the Hudson Valley. Through the Go Make It video series, Tompkins helps tell the story of young people starting out in their careers. Additionally, the bank partnered with the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum and generously invested $20,000 in its plans to expand the Poughkeepsie campus to encourage children to explore STEM careers and the manufacturing space.

As a community bank, part of Tompkins’ purpose is to help communities thrive and grow. One way it accomplishes this, is by leveraging its influence and resources to safeguard customers and create stability for the future. The Hudson Valley is a thriving community to live and work in, and Tompkins has stepped up to ensure that young people see the area’s potential and opportunities for long-term careers. With a goal of igniting and inspiring young people to pursue careers in manufacturing, Tompkins Mahopac Bank’s investment in education and experiential learning is building the pipeline of innovative talent for many years to come.

If you’d like to learn more about Tompkins Mahopac Bank or find out how you can be involved visit 

About Tompkins Mahopac Bank:

Tompkins Mahopac Bank, part of Tompkins Financial Corporation, has personalized service, local decision-making and a broad range of services for consumers and businesses. Wealth management services are provided through the offices of Tompkins Financial Advisors. Whether you prefer branch or remote mobile banking, we provide the breadth of services and local decision-making to make what’s possible a reality. Locally Focused. A World of Possibilities. More information is available at

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Meet Stephen Casa – Workplace Learning Coordinator at Ulster BOCES


Stephen Casa has been the Workplace Learning Coordinator at Ulster BOCES since early 2018. Ulster BOCES operates as an extension of local school districts that provides shared programs and educational services, serving eight public schools throughout the county. Casa plays an interesting role acting as the lead connector between BOCES programs and the business community. At the moment he’s playing an important part in building relationships for the Hudson Valley Pathways Academy and the Career and Technical Education Center specifically.   

Casa attended Saint John’s University to study Management and Finance, and later got his master’s degree in Instructional Technology from the New York Institute of Technology. After college he started his career in education as a math teacher to middle school students in Brooklyn. His goal at the time was to eventually teach business courses at the high school level. His career took a turn when he decided to take a leap of faith and walk into the high school a week before school was starting to inquire about any openings. He went into the building a middle school math teacher and walked out with a full-time position at James Madison High School in a program called the Academy of Finance.

Casa’s role in the Academy of Finance set his career on the path that it is today. The Academy of Finance is a member of the National Academy Foundation (NAF). It’s a progressive model that combines schoolwork with experiential learning. The academy’s connections with the business community helped students secure paid summer internships and gain real-world experience. Casa told us that this was his first exposure to “education as it should be.”

As the Workplace Learning Coordinator for Ulster BOCES, Casa also works closely with the Council of Industry. The Council of Industry is the lead Industry Partner for the Hudson Valley Pathways Academy, and Casa works directly with many members to help setup workplace learning challenges.  These challenges are immersive projects given to the students at Hudson Valley Pathways Academy by local businesses. Casa also helps coordinate internship opportunities for students through his connections with the business community. “The Council of Industry has been incredibly helpful in identifying businesses that see the benefit of engaging with Ulster BOCES and the students” said Casa.

Casa is passionate about what he does and told us that making connections and watching those connections make a real impact are the best parts of his job. He believes giving students real-world experience as early as possible plays a big role in preparing them for their future. Casa told us that if he could offer some advice to young adults it would be to, “take any opportunity you can get to work with the business community, whether it’s a job shadow or an internship. Those learning experiences are what open your eyes to what’s possible.”   

Hudson Valley Pathways Academy has seen tremendous success since its beginning just a few years ago. The P-TECH school offers a six-year pathway of study, which results in students earning an associate’s degree and puts them first in line for available positions with industry partners. The Career and Technical Education Center also prepares students for the future by offering dozens of high-tech training programs that lead to in-demand jobs. With both programs experiencing such success, we asked Casa what his biggest challenges have been along the way. He told us that getting education providers and business partners to fully recognize the benefits of working together has been a struggle, but when you finally get them at the same table and allow them to see the win-wins it can make significant change.

The future of education is bright, and the programs offered at Ulster BOCES are a shining example of what’s to come. Experiential learning will likely play a much larger role in education in the future. Today many students don’t get real-world experience until after high school or during college. However, we’re already beginning to see the shift with Ulster BOCES. Casa emphasized the importance of teaching young adults how to be adaptable and believes that the work they’re doing at Ulster BOCES is setting these students up with the skills they need to be successful.

If you’d like to learn more about Ulster BOCES or find out how you can be involved visit  

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Meet Korey: Apprentice at Kdc/One Kolmar


Meet Korey, CNC Apprentice at KDC/One Kolmar in Port Jervis. Kolmar is a contract manufacturer of color cosmetics and personal care products including eye makeup, lipsticks, pressed and loose powders and bath products to list a few. Korey started working at Kolmar in February as a temporary employee cleaning the facility. While working as a temp Korey learned that Kolmar was opening up an apprentice opportunity for current employees and he was quick to apply. By March Korey was enrolled in the program and ready to learn.

Korey currently lives in Port Jervis but grew up in Manhattan, NY. During high school he became interested in the trades and decided to study optics for a few years between high school and college. Studying this trade gave Korey the opportunity to learn something new while getting to work with his hands, two things he told us he loves to do. He later went on to attended John Jay College of Criminal Justice for 2 years in New York City.  

When he decided to move up to Port Jervis to be closer to his family, he started out working at Walmart as a stock associate. He spent his time stocking the shelves, assisting customers and helping out wherever possible. Not long after, he took the temp position at Kolmar with the hope that it would grow into something more. Being a CNC Apprentice has given Korey the opportunity to gain hands on experience with lathes, mills, band saws and much more. He now has access to different departments throughout the company and a team of coworkers backing him up and helping him learn.  

When we asked Korey what made him want to become a CNC apprentice he told us, “I wanted to be part of the team and to have a purpose. Being in the apprentice program has given me a family at Kolmar and made me feel like I’m part of something.” He works closely with his supervisor and a small group of machinists who have taught him how to read blueprints, make tools and run machines.

Outside of work Korey is also getting related instruction through Tooling-U, an online learning platform specifically for the manufacturing industry. On his own time Korey is taking courses to supplement the experience he’s gaining at work. He told us that after completing each course he sits with his supervisor to review the material and go over any additional questions he might have. This also serves as an opportunity for Korey’s supervisor to relate the material back to his current projects and tasks at Kolmar.

Apprentices in the Council of Industry’s Registered Apprentice Program are required to complete 144 hours of related instruction each year. Many apprentices take advantage of other opportunities outside of Tooling-U including in-house training and courses at local community colleges to complete their hours. SUNY Ulster has also received the SUNY Apprenticeship grant, which allows registered apprentices to take up to $5,000 worth of trade related classes for free.

Korey told us that he’s excited and proud to work at Kolmar and be a registered apprentice. His hard work and eagerness have been instrumental in helping him move up from a temporary position to a full-time apprentice. If you or someone you know is looking to pursue a career in manufacturing, consider joining the Kolmar team. You can easily apply to all available positions online at Search for jobs based on department, upload a resume and fill in a simple application form to apply today! You can also view other currently available manufacturing positions throughout the Hudson Valley on the Council of Industry’s job board: 

If you are a manufacturing employer or a potential apprentice click here for more information or contact Johnnieanne Hansen at (845) 565-1355 or to discuss details, requirements and potential opportunities.

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Future Manufacturers in the Making


It seems our efforts to share manufacturing career opportunities are beginning to bear fruit. From articles in HV Mfg magazine to the website and its videos highlighting people working in manufacturing to our support of the Hudson Valley Pathways Academy and more educators from across the region are increasingly turning to us to help them connect with the manufacturing sector and the great careers we have.

At schools throughout the Hudson Valley students are increasingly being exposed to the amazing career choices available to them through the manufacturing sector. Council of Industry member companies have been at career fairs and featured prominently in the end of year presentations made at the PTech Program.

Ulster BOCES Hudson Valley Pathways Academy students presented their final projects of the year to an audience of educators, industry leaders, and family members on May 29 at the Ulster BOCES Center for Innovative Teaching & Learning at Anna Devine. The young scholars demonstrated the work they did this past year which included several projects with Council of Industry member companies. The students also reviewed their positive growth and chose a word that described what their hopes were for the year. Positivity, self-confidence, and persistence were popular themes among many of the students. Congratulations to all on a very successful year!

On June 4, the Cornwall Central Middle School hosted a great career exploration event. The students were engaged with a diverse field of employers. The Council of Industry was well represented by members Ametek Rotron and Global Foundries, both of which demonstrated a variety of career paths available in manufacturing.

At the end of May, Valley Central High School hosted a job fair that included Council member Mechanical Rubber Products. This was a schoolwide event that included not only potential career opportunities but summer job offerings too.

There is ever increasing interest in the career paths available in the industrial sector nationwide. The Council of Industry has made it a priority to connect manufacturers with the local schools in an effort to promote the fantastic job opportunities available in manufacturing and various ways to navigate the journey. There is something there for every type of student. If your company would like to be a part of future events contact us.

For more information for students on careers in manufacturing click here

Some videos about manufacturing careers from around the Hudson Valley:

This is Manufacturing

GMI Tool and Die Maker

Meet Mike – Engineering Tech at eMagin

Go Make It YouTube Channel

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One High School, One Principal, One BIG Impact


Manufacturing companies all over the Hudson Valley are eager to recruit and train the next generation of young men and women to continue the legacy of building quality products used across the nation and overseas. Thanks to the efforts of a high school principal and technology teacher, this process is going to become easier. Aaron Hopmayer has been the principal of Pine Bush High School for almost 18 years. Throughout those years, Mr. Hopmayer has created several programs aimed at students interested in pursuing a trade.

HV MFG sat down with Mr. Hopmayer back in 2018 to discuss the progress made over the years. Growing up, Mr. Hopmayer was not fully sure what he wanted to pursue as a career. After graduating high school, he joined the Army and served in Iraq and various other places. After serving, Mr. Hopmayer came back to the Hudson Valley and became a student at SUNY New Paltz where he majored in Secondary Education/Social Studies and eventually earned a masters in Special Education. His first teaching job was in Fallsburg where he learned what it takes to support both students and teachers while meeting state education requirements.

After working at Fallsburg, Mr. Hopmayer began working at Pine Bush High School which houses around 1,800 students in grades 9 through 12. The high school is home to a diverse community that is continuing to grow with a district budget of $115 million. From the very first day, Mr. Hopmayer said the main focus of the school is the children and making sure the faculty/staff is doing everything possible to ensure they will develop into successful adults. One of the initiatives started is called Summer Academies, which range from 1-4 weeks in duration and teach kids various subjects. Currently, there are 6 different disciplines including Leadership and Law, Aviation, Performing Arts, Science, Horsepower & Engineering, and Medical. Each program is taught by district teachers as well as community leader who specialize in the given field. The program is so successful that students are even able to earn SUNY Orange Community College Credit in some classes. In addition, STEM Academy was created to help incoming high schoolers gain exposure to manufacturing programs.

Mr. Hopmayer contributes many of the successes to the excellent staff he works with that always show enthusiasm and energy towards the students. Over the past few years, Pine Bush High School has seen fewer fights thanks to programs designed to help students find their passions. With many manufacturers across the Hudson Valley looking to hire new talents, the hard work that Mr. Hopmayer, the faculty, and the students have put into these programs will soon pay off.


The full interview between HV MFG and Mr. Hopmayer can be viewed here. 

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STEM jobs are in demand and they tend to pay well. The growing economy has a heightened need for workers in the core STEM fields, and predictions indicate that STEM jobs will grow at a faster rate between 2014 and 2024 than jobs overall. Analysts are projecting about 9 to 11 percent growth in STEM jobs compared to 6.5 percent growth for jobs overall. These numbers are based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts.

These numbers are largely just projections and are subject to change with the inevitable fluctuations in the economy and industry; but for the most part they are believed to be highly accurate. Not only is demand for jobs in these fields growing but wages are rising as well. In 2015 the Commerce Department found that STEM workers had an average wage that was 29 percent higher than other fields, and that number is expected to have increased since.

Among the most in demand and highest paying jobs are electrical and mechanical engineers, technicians and software developers. Each of these positions have varying educational requirements but demand and pay is expected to grow exponentially in the next 10 years. For a closer look at the staffing needs, pay and level of education required for these jobs click here.

A career path in STEM is promising, but educators need to better inform young adults about these opportunities. Thankfully schools are expanding their curriculum to better serve this need. Right here in the Hudson Valley schools like Pine Bush High School are creating programs to educate students about careers in manufacturing and STEM.

For more information on the demand for jobs in the STEM field read the full article here.  

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