BOCES will celebrate new lab for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering program

Provided photo: Bill Rakonczay, AME teacher at the Orleans/Niagara BOCES, is shown in the new classroom and lab.

Posted 6 May 2024 at 8:42 pm

Press Release, Orleans/Niagara BOCES

MEDINA – The Orleans Career and Technical Education Center’s (OCTEC) Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME) program was awarded a $250,000 naming rights grant from the Gene Haas Foundation to upgrade the classroom at the Orleans/Niagara BOCES site.

Now that the renovations are completed, it is one of the premier Career and Technical Education CNC labs in the country, said AME teacher Bill Rakonczay.

“We are thrilled to have received this very generous grant from the Gene Haas Foundation,” Rakonczay said. “The director of the Gene Haas Foundation, Kathy Looman, encouraged me to apply for the funds because she said she has heard a lot about our program, and from what she saw from our social media accounts. I think that speaks volumes about what we do here.”

There will be a ceremony for the grand opening of the new Gene Haas Advanced Manufacturing and Engineer Lab at 1 p.m. on Thursday, with an open house to follow from 2 to 6 p.m. The O/N BOCES is located at 4232 Shelby Basin Rd., Medina.

The AME program teaches students CNC programming, CNC set-up and operation, along with engineering principles. The AME program at the Orleans/Niagara BOCES also partner with NASA for their HUNCH program with the students making parts for the stowage lockers that go to the International Space Station.

“Gene Haas Foundation is thrilled to partner with Orleans/Niagara BOCES on this upgrade to their facility,” Looman said. “This naming program is an endorsement of the best CNC programs in the world. This grant was established for the purpose of highlighting those programs in order to raise the standard of Manufacturing Technology programs everywhere. We would like to thank William Rakonczay and the entire team at Orleans/Niagara BOCES for the success it has had as we look forward to the future.”

The upgrades to the classroom took place over the course of this summer and this year’s classes walking into the new Gene Haas Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Lab at the beginning of the school year.

“It is a very exciting time for me and for the students,” Rakonczay said.  “We have a state-of-the-art learning lab. It’s been completely transformed.”

The Gene Haas Foundation has played a very important role in Mr. Rakonczay’ s program for many years providing scholarships to his students to continue their education. Gene Haas, the sole funder of the foundation bearing his name, is the founder and owner of Haas Automation, the largest machine tool builder in the western world.

The foundation was created by its namesake in 1999 to focus on manufacturing education in the form of scholarships for CNC machinist training.  It donates millions of dollars every year to manufacturing education and the community.

There are over 300,000 manufacturing jobs that are currently unfilled due to a lack of skilled workers. Those numbers continue to grow daily due to retirements.

“I get calls all the time from companies who desperately need machinists,” Rakonczay said. “There are just not enough trained workers out there.”