September 10, 2012
By: Larry Rulison
Source: Times Union
Local schools give graduates instant credibility, panel says
— Whether you are young or old, the best way to get a job in the rising
local high-tech economy may be through local educational institutions.
That was one of the major messages to those who attended the Tech Career Expo Monday at the University at Albany's SEFCU Arena.
event, which was sponsored by the Times Union, the Center for Economic
Growth, the UAlbany Alumni Association and Monster.com, drew hundreds of
job-seekers. Dozens of local advanced manufacturing and technology
companies exhibited, along with local higher-ed schools such as Hudson
Valley Community College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Union
Susan Mehalick, a Times Union city desk editor,
moderated a panel on educational opportunities in the high-tech economy.
What the panel uncovered is that local schools — from two-year colleges
to schools like UAlbany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering
that offer both undergraduate and graduate degrees — have forged deep
ties with companies like General Electric Co. and GlobalFoundries,
providing instant credibility to graduates when they hit the job market.
you don't need a Ph.D to succeed. Penny Hill, associate dean for HVCC's
TEC-SMART facility in Saratoga County, said all 12 participants in the
school's semiconductor manufacturing program had at least two job offers
by March and many had three by the time they graduated later in the
spring. That type of success rate has made the program, which prepares
students for a clean room environment inside a computer chip factory,
"Right now we are at capacity, and we have a waiting list," Hill said.
same can be said for the other side of the spectrum at the NanoCollege,
which offers not only undergraduate degrees in nanotechnology, but also
master's and doctorate degrees in the field, which applies to computer
chip design and manufacturing as well as biotechnology and the creation
of novel materials used in everything from batteries to wind turbines.
of our graduates are going right into work," said Robert Geer, vice
president for academic affairs and chief academic officer for the
Even BOCES, which used to be known as a program for
those who were not able to go on to higher education, is a great
launching point, said Douglas Leavens, director of career and technical
education for Washington, Saratoga, Warren, Hamilton and Essex BOCES.
said that BOCES used to be known as a "dead-end" program, but now
secondary-level students who attend get work experience and are also
encouraged to go on to community college or even higher. And their
employers will often support them financially.
"We encourage all
of our students to go on (for more school) because more education is
better than less education," Leavens said. "We have to keep driving
All of those on the panel also stressed that
participating in internships and co-op programs while in school is
almost as vital as the degree itself because of the work experience you
get and connections that you make.
"Don't wait getting into
industry until after you graduate," said Christina Murray, associate
director of graduate admissions at RPI.