Leaders in the manufacturing industry encouraged students last week to follow their passions and push past their comfort zones in the pursuit of future careers that spark their interests and have the potential to change the way we live our lives.
Mohonasen students from the high school to the elementary levels took part in Manufacturing Week activities last Thursday, Oct. 6, and learned more about the industry, received career advice and had the chance to sample local creations that have helped establish successful business owners and manufacturers around the region.
Students from The Center for Advanced Technology at Mohonasen traveled to the modern Wise Labs facility in Schenectady and joined other students from the Capital Region to hear from a panel of “Millennials in Manufacturing.” The panelists — young, creative entrepreneurs from the field — shared their experiences, guidance and encouragement with the students. Through discussing real-world challenges and successes they’ve encountered in the field, the panelists encouraged students to stay current on the latest technology and innovations, to bring the right attitude to their future careers and to discover and pursue their unique passions.
“Work on a project that you actually care about,” Sandro Gerbini, founder and CEO of Gatherer’s Granola, told the students. “Don’t do something just because it’s what others want you to do or expect from you, and don’t be afraid to really dive in.”
A press conference featuring local leaders in the manufacturing industry, elected officials and representatives from the Mohonasen Central School District and Capital Region BOCES followed the panel. Mason Varga, a second-grade student at Bradt Primary School, joined the impressive cast of presenters to discuss his “Sticky Plate” creation, which he invented to help parents feed toddlers and young children who frequently knock their dishes over. Mason was joined by his father, Jason Varga, a music teacher at Draper Middle School, as he spoke to the crowd of students, educators, media and community members.
At the press conference, Congressman Paul Tonko called the field of manufacturing “safe, smart, sustainable and surging,” and encouraged students to sharpen their critical thinking skills and advance into the field of manufacturing with the same “pioneering spirit” that inspired the work of early manufacturers from the region.
Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara praised The Center for Advanced Technology at Mohonasen as a positive resource for the area – one that prepares students for the next generation of manufacturing careers and addresses the skills gap.
Dr. Valerie Kelsey, deputy director for Capital Region BOCES Career and Technical Education, commended CAT for “building the workforce of tomorrow,” and Mohonasen Academic Administrator for Science and Technology Makensie Bullinger shared how the district focuses on nurturing student interest in STEM fields from a young age and challenges students to think differently. Bullinger shared that the skills and programs offered at Mohonasen help lead students toward careers in STEM where they can find well-paying professions in targeted, skill gap areas.
Watch coverage from Time Warner Cable News on the Manufacturing Week press conference and Mason Varga’s invention.