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Voss Manufacturing gives BOCES students paid internships

Provided photo, from left: Tom Kammerer, Kyle Toth (North Tonawanda), Coby Sortore (Starpoint), Tom Culmo (Lyndonville), Austin Cox (Medina), Ethan Kujawa (Medina), Steven Schumacher (Royalton-Hartland) and Alex Kammerer (Project Engineer).

Posted 21 March 2018 at 8:32 am

‘I really wish more students were going into the trades. Manufacturing is cool again. It is a fantastic career and it is growing.’

Press Release, Orleans/Niagara BOCES

MEDINA – Six students from Orleans/Niagara BOCES Niagara (NCTEC) and Orleans (OCTEC) Career and Technical Education Centers have been lucky enough to obtain a paid internship, also known as capstoning, at Voss Manufacturing, Inc.

The Sanborn company is a diversified manufacturer that specializes in the design and manufacture of tooling, equipment, machining and fabrications.

Tom Kammerer, general manager, and his son Alex, who is the company’s project engineer, are giving the students real-world experience that will work in conjunction with their education in their career and technical education programs to boost their career success.

“We have had a great relationship with BOCES for almost 40 years now,” he said. “I am an advocate of BOCES. The facilities are good, the equipment is really good and the teachers do an excellent job at training. I can’t say enough about it.”

The company offers a shadowing program in the students’ junior year and if they do well they are asked back for the capstoning program in their senior year. They work at Voss in lieu of attending their BOCES program for several months.

“It’s a great way for them to go into the workforce and see what it is all about,” said Mr. Kammerer. “For us, it’s like a prolonged interview process. We put them to work with all the basic skills and see if they can master them and if they fit in as part of our team.”

The students currently capstoning there are Colby Sortore (Welding Program/NCTEC), Kyle Toth (Electricity and Electronics/NCTEC), Austin Cox (Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering/OCTEC), Ethan Kujawa (Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering/OCTEC), Tom Culmo (Auto Body/OCTEC) and Steven Schumacher (Welding/OCTEC).

Mr. Kammerer says he and his employees progressively give them exposure to higher level training.

“The analogy I use is that if you don’t master algebra, you can’t take calculus,” he said. “All the skills they are learning here in the shop are the building blocks and they have to master the basics and then we will move them up. They will rely on those basics the rest of their lives in their trade so they are very important.”

Welding teacher Eric Farrell says he is grateful to Mr. Kammerer.

“Tom is very interested in working with students and training them,” Farrell said. “Voss tries to train the students in many different areas so that they understand the workings of the company and the processes that take place at the company. Voss is a big believer in education first, work second and with that being said, they are very flexible with our students.  Voss is a great place for the students to learn and start their career.”

Jackie Coyle, a Work Based Learning Coordinator at BOCES, said, “Voss is an excellent partner for Orleans/Niagara BOCES. They understand that students are young and need to learn from experiences in the work world.”

BOCES would like to continue these type of partnerships with many local businesses.  A Work Based Learning Coordinator collaboratively engages employers and schools in providing structured learning experiences for students. These experiences focus on assisting students to develop broad, transferable skills that are needed in the workplace.

Bill Rakonczay, Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering teacher, said, “The opportunities they give my students year in and year out in the capstoning program is tremendous. They are taking what they learn here in class and applying it to real state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing machines such as CNC mills and lathes. It reinforces that the skills we are teaching here in class apply directly out in the workforce.”

Mr. Kammerer said he is hoping that some of the students stick with Voss.

“We are expanding and we could really use them,” he said. “They start their capstoning with us in December. At the end of it, around June, if they are performing well and we have a job opening, we will offer it to them. I really wish more students were going into the trades.

“Manufacturing is cool again. It is a fantastic career and it is growing. The work is difficult and demanding, but it’s different and it is more computer based. I would say 40 to 50 percent of our workforce is from BOCES. Our shop foreman is even a graduate from BOCES. It is our lifeline for our future.”

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