Summer Learning at STEM Camp

High school students interested in careers in science, technology, engineering or math related fields attended Onondaga Community College’s STEM Camp during the last week of July. Students spent half of each day in class developing a knowledge base of modern manufacturing, robotics design and programming, while adding to team building experiences. During the other half of the day students took field trips to businesses and explored their relation to robotics and automation. Participating businesses included Byrne Dairy, Lockheed Martin, National Grid, Schneider Packaging Equipment and Time Warner Cable News.

Jordan Dudden speaks with STEM Campers about her business, JoJo Rings.
Jordan Dudden speaks with STEM Campers about her business, JoJo Rings.

Students also visited SALT Makerspace (pictured above) located inside the Delavan Center at the corner of West Fayette and Wyoming Streets in Syracuse. “SALT” stands for Syracuse Arts Learning and Technology. The facility provides access to equipment for metalworking, woodworking and 3-D design and modeling. The space is available for local inventors and artists to use.

JoJo Rings uses SALT Makerspace's facilities to turn old keys into rings.
JoJo Rings uses SALT Makerspace’s facilities to turn old keys into rings.

STEM campers toured the facility and saw the 3-D printer and other high-tech devices in action. Students also met an entrepreneur who uses SALT Makerspace regularly in conjunction with her business. Jordan Dudden owns a startup called JoJo Rings. She creates fashionable pieces of jewelry by turning keys into rings. Dudden, who is a graduate of Skaneateles High School and Syracuse University, comes to SALT Makerspace to heat the keys so they can be bent without breaking, sized, cleaned and buffed. JoJo Rings are available in stores in more than 40 states and on the internet. She has sold more than 3,000 rings. Each month she partners with a nonprofit organization, sharing a portion of the proceeds with the charity.

STEM Camp’s primary sponsor is Time Warner Cable (TWC) as part of its Connect a Million Minds program, a philanthropic initiative to address America’s declining proficiency in STEM-related fields. Using its media and employee assets, TWC creates awareness of the issue and inspires students to develop the STEM skills they need to become the problem solvers of tomorrow.

Supporting Workforce Development

Onondaga Community College received a $220,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase. A ceremonial check was presented during a press conference June 10 in the Whitney Applied Technology Center. The funding will support the College’s Workforce Development efforts, specifically in the training of students for employment in the agribusiness and food processing industry. The College is partnering with employers, nonprofit organizations and New York State to develop the program.

This generous grant from JPMorgan Chase is part of its $1 million commitment to supporting advanced manufacturing training programs in the upstate regions of Syracuse, Albany, Buffalo and Rochester, and part of a much broader $250 million commitment to address the skills gap in communities around the world. Goals of JPMorgan Chase’s plan include:

  • Building a demand-driven system through cross-sector gatherings to encourage collaboration, share findings and formulate strategies.
  • Investing in the best training and making targeted investments to strengthen and scale the most effective workforce training programs.
  • Relying on data and sponsoring a data-driven analysis of skills demand to supply gaps in local markets.

The focus of this project on the agribusiness and food processing industry is in response to a workforce demand in a growing sector of the economy. The five-county region of Central New York (CNY) includes 3,585 farm businesses generating products with a market value of $673 million. Agricultural commodity sales in New York State (NYS) increased by 20% from 2007-2012 to over $5.4 billion annually and by 21% in CNY during the same period. NYS is a leader in agricultural production of apples (2nd in the U.S.); feed corn (2nd); sweet corn (4th); fruits, tree nuts, and berries, (6th); and vegetables for market (8th). NYS is the nation’s third largest producer of fluid milk and commodity crops and was the nation’s top yogurt producer in 2012, 2013 and 2014. In addition, there are more than 200 food processing companies in CNY, including a growing list of farm breweries and distilleries producing beer, hard cider, wine, and spirits.

In October 2014, OCC was awarded a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor as part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program in support of this effort.

“We are thrilled to be selected by JPMorgan Chase to receive this important grant funding. Through our Workforce Development program we are committed to responding to the needs of both local employers and workers and aligning the needs of both as we work to advance the economic vitality and growth of the Central New York region. Having this support in place will make a significant impact upon our mission,” said OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill.

“All of us on the Board of Trustees are keenly aware of OCC’s critical role in the community and the opportunity we have to make Central New York a better place for all of us. We applaud JPMorgan Chase for being our partners in this effort through their very generous grant. We are very fortunate to have their support and thank them for it,” said Margaret M. “Meg” O’Connell, Chair, OCC Board of Trustees.

“At JPMorgan Chase, we believe we have a fundamental responsibility to use our resources and expertise to help the communities where we live and work. We are proud to be partnering with Onondaga Community College to provide training to folks in Syracuse that will fill important jobs within the advanced manufacturing sector,” said Mark Allen, Upstate New York Region Executive, Commercial Banking at JPMorgan Chase.

“I am grateful to community partners JPMorgan Chase and Onondaga Community College for their ongoing support of transformative solutions to impact both employers and un-and-underemployed residents in our community,” said Robert Simpson, president of CenterState CEO. “This new investment will dovetail with CenterState CEO’s Work Train initiative, which will align with and support the college’s training programs, helping to develop a manufacturing workforce pipeline in the region.”

OCC is working to ensure the programs it develops are well-aligned with employer needs by using the DACUM (Developing A CurriculUM) process. After a half-century of use, DACUM is widely accepted as the best methodology for creating competency-based and employer-driven training to build workforce capacity. Many state agencies, including the IRS, Texas Occupational Standards Committee, and national, international, and multi-billion dollar corporations, including AT&T, Boeing, Disney, Energizer and General Motors use DACUM to establish effective training programs with superior results.

Several leading employers in the Agribusiness and Food Industry sector have committed to the project including: AGRANA Fruit US, Inc., American Food & Vending, Byrne Dairy, Giovanni Foods, G&C Foods, HP Hood, Food Bank of Central New York and Tops Friendly Markets. Employer partners are committed to identifying and validating competencies, validating curriculum, promoting the program, providing content experts and instructors, identifying career pathways, hiring qualified candidates upon completion and participating in program assessment.

Non-profit partners include CenterState CEO, a 2000-member, business leadership organization; Work Train, a collaborative led by CenterState to link low-income individuals with job-training; the Workforce Development Institute; the Southwest Community Center; Catholic Charities; Syracuse Educational Opportunity Center; the Manufacturer’s Association of Central New York and the Onondaga Farm Bureau. The public workforce investment system is represented by CNY Works and JOBSplus!

Partners in the agribusiness program include SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry, SUNY Morrisville and Cornell University.FEATURE JPMorgan Chase check presentation