STEM Careers Start at OCC

OCC students heading toward a career in a STEM-related field include (left to right): Vy Le, Mathematics & Science; Oksana Drulyk, Mathematics & Science; Faris Al-Khoury, Mathematics & Science; Jesus Collazo Tornes, Engineering Science; Keith Hale, Electrical Engineering Technology; Jacob Pietrowicz, Mechanical Technology; Adnan Aljuboori, Engineering Science.

Students interested in STEM-related are finding OCC is a great place to begin their journey. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do until I took a class in deferential equations here,” said Oksana Drulyk (Liverpool HS, 2016). “That’s when I figured out I wanted to go into Actuarial Science.” Drulyk will earn her degree in Mathematics & Science this May. She plans to transfer to Le Moyne College in the fall.

Adnan Aljuboori is a native of Iraq who came to the U.S. in 2011. He switched between science-related majors until he found the one best suited for him. He initially chose a computer-related degree program based solely on how much money he would make, decided it wasn’t for him but still had many other STEM-related programs to choose from. “Someone told me, ‘do what you love and the money will follow.’ So now I am doing what I love.” Aljuboori enrolled in the Engineering Science major and is pursuing his dream of becoming a civil engineer. He will earn his degree in May and transfer to either Syracuse University or Cornell University.

Keith Hale is a United States Army Veteran who went from being a soldier stationed at Fort Drum to a student at OCC. “I’m an ELT (Electrical Engineering Technology) major and I’ve already had opportunities open up just from the classes I’m taking here.” Hale will earn his degree in December and plans to go directly into the workforce after doing so, but isn’t ruling out continuing his education. “I’d like to wind up with a company which would help me get my four-year degree.”

Jacob Pietrowicz (Phoenix HS, 2016) is a Mechanical Technology major with dreams of becoming a race car mechanic. “The Mechanical Technology program here is all hands-on. Either you are working on a computer or in the lab cutting metal. It’s been a great experience for me.”

Jesus Collazo Tornes is an Engineering Science major who worked at an automotive plant in Cuba before coming to the United States. “I knew from the beginning what I wanted to do. I was working for an electric car company and I was familiar with the practical part. I came here to take the theory.”

All of these students are the beneficiaries of OCC’s commitment to develop strong STEM programs that provide hands-on learning opportunities that link students to immediate openings in the local workforce with an A.A.S. degree. Students who prefer to pursue a bachelor’s degree can begin their coursework at OCC at a reduced cost, earn an A.S. degree and transfer to any of the numerous four-year colleges OCC has transfer agreements with.

Another advantage for OCC students are the smaller class sizes and access to courses taught by professors rather than graduate teaching assistants. “In the sciences, introductory courses such as General Biology or General Chemistry at a four-year college would be taught in a large lecture hall setting with over 100 students in the classroom. Instructors may not have a chance to get to know each student on a personal level,” said MaryAnn Page, Associate Professor of Biology. “At OCC, these lectures are smaller (perhaps 20-40 students) and many times the professors teaching lectures are also teaching the labs. We get to know our students as individuals and have a more complete knowledge of their strengths and understanding of course content beyond simply their grade in the course.”

OCC offers degrees in nine STEM-related majors including:

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